PC Magazine would go 100% online from February 2009, after 27 years of existing in print form. Let's look at how PC Magazine is doing, along with another digital magazine that we like called Avantoure.We all love to flip through a glossy, interesting magazine on the plane, in the dentist's waiting room, or stretched out on the sofa in the evening. However magazines have not been isolated from the troubles that print media are having due to the online world. Many magazines are struggling to survive and some of them are moving completely online in order to stick around. In November we reported that leading tech magazine
Our writer Frederic Lardinois raised a very good question when PC Magazine went digital: why is PC Magazine putting time and effort into producing a digital edition of its magazine, instead of just focusing on improving its website? The answer probably comes down to one word: design. The best thing about magazines, to many of us, is their design. Probably the most successful tech magazine of this era is Wired, which is renowned for its design.
The digital PC Magazine magazine, which you can download a free sample of at Zinio, employs Flash technology and opens in a web browser window. We perused the June edition, but didn't see a lot of interactivity. Also many of the hyperlinks simply opened up pages in PC Magazine's website. A letter from a reader in the feedback section of this issue noted how he likes to print out parts of the digital PC Magazine. That implies to us that PC Magazine hasn't fully escaped the shackles of print. In fact it seems very much like the print magazine simply transplanted into an eBook. The magazine has plenty of fans, and is known for its reviews, however, it still has a few tricks to learn about digital magazines by the look of it.
Back in December 2006 we reviewed a new online magazine that impressed us with its flashy design: Avantoure. It's still going strong 2.5 years later. With the tagline "life is a game," Avantoure features rich media such as animations, interactive content, music, audio interviews, movie clips and TV commercials. The May-June 09 issue is as visually stunning as ever, using Flash as its format. It's presented online, within the browser, but is also available as an offline Flash file. The magazine costs £25 for 6 issues, or £4.50 for one issue. Generally speaking Avantoure is what PC Magazine should be aspiring to be.
So to answer the question that headlines this post: has the time of digital magazines arrived? Most people would agree that reading a magazine should be a relaxing, pleasurable experience. However if you're reading a digital magazine on your computer, chances are that you aren't especially relaxed. The savior of digital magazines though will be the increasing market penetration of eBook Readers, such as Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader device. With those devices, you will be able to read magazines in a relaxing manner on the plane and on your sofa.
R.U. Sirius, who edits a new digital magazine called h + Magazine, recently blogged that he didn't take to the digital format immediately. He wrote that he first tried the flash digital magazine format out "when I was in a hurried and impatient mood... and it confounded and irritated me." Later the same night, he returned to it "in a relaxed mood" and he found it "very very very quite readable." Of course he would say that, but it does reinforce that digital magazines need to be a relaxing read for people to truly enjoy them.
Let us know in the comments which online magazines you're reading at the moment, we'd love to find out some new ones.