The REAL reason your digital magazine readers don’t want a digital replica edition!


Online media expert Ed Coburn explains why niche publishers should re-think digital replica editions.

I love technology! I hate technology! I love technology! I hate technology!   

This was my inner dialog recently, as I was ready to throw my iPhone against the wall while reading a blurry page of The New Yorker. Now, if you’re not at the age of, eh, eye discrepancy yet, take a moment to imagine how your parents feel. Or your grandparents, if you’re still lucky enough to have them around.

Place yourself in their shoes: you are at the age where you’re kind of set in your ways, yet haven’t completely lost the will to progress through this wonderful (yet frustrating) age of technological advancement. And those that have seen their parents read a digital replica edition of their favorite magazine on a tablet—time and again—find them zooming in on the page, and then manically swiping the page up and down and left and right to make it through a single sentence. It is hard enough that some pages are simply fuzzy, but it is even worse when you are losing your eyesight.

I’m talking about  a digital replica edition–a copy of your magazine– typically a PDF. Imagine opening a PDF on your tablet, and there aren’t many bells and whistles beyond that.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), many adults experience difficulty seeing things at a close distance–with emphasis on reading or accomplishing computer tasks–beginning in their early to mid-forties.

So how does this apply to niche publishers that produce digital replicas of a magazine? I am so glad you asked!

The first thing to take into consideration is the fact that pages of the digital replica must be created and formatted to fit into the tablet. This automatically minimizes the text on the screen, ultimately straining an older person’s already deteriorated vision. Some would argue, “But you know they can zoom in, right?!”

Well yes, but why should your readers have to? It’s the equivalent of using a magnifying glass to read the newspaper, and this is the digital age, people! Zooming in is frustrating for the reason I stated earlier in this piece: you will have to swipe all around your tablet to complete a full sentence. It’s not rocket science, nor is it hard manual labor; but it is inconvenient, nonetheless, for a hobby that is supposed to be relaxing.

Ah, sitting back and relaxing with a good ‘ol digital magazineUntil you’re not. 

Relaxing is a difficult feat to overcome when you are filled with frustration toward your device. An older reader should not be focusing on how to maneuver their tablet; they should be absorbing information about the article they are reading. It’s good for them, and it’s good for you.

Obviously, a digital replica requires a reader to be looking at a lit screen for a large portion of time. There is also a chance that many pages of a digital replica are not completely clear, which is something readers of all ages have experienced at one point. If a magazine is uploading PNGs, it challenges iPad users to try and read a pixelated page.

And even though PDFs may be more clear, it does not change the fact that your digital replica does not use scrollable text. This, of course, is bothersome for more than 50% of digital subscribers who need this function to engage in their reading.

We know that these kinds of apps and advances are not going away; however, it is our duty to keep subscribers and readers of all ages in mind when building a digital replica edition of a magazine. Or perhaps, as we’d recommend, upgrading to a reflow plus, which we’ve always dubbed “easy on the eyes.”

What are your thoughts about digital replica editions?

* Editor’s note: Post originally appeared on on 06/16/15


picture-346  More about Ed Coburn: Ed is one of the true innovators in the online media world. He’s currently SVP & Lead Consultant for Mequoda Group. Ed has served as the Director of Harvard Health Publications, the consumer media division of Harvard Medical School. Previously he co-founded and was Managing Director of Circadian Information and was a Group Publisher at Cutter Consortium.


Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau–Niche Media’s Grand Poobah–also created a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events:  Check it out!

– Web:
– Blog:  Niche Media HQ
– Twitter: @NicheMediaH
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Inc & Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ
– Google+: +NicheMediaHQ

Speak Your Mind