To pay or not to pay...
Nothing takes me into a moment as much as holding a gorgeous magazine in my hands. As much as digital readers provide convenience, what they can't do is provide you the glorious tactile feeling of flipping through pages can bring. They do try.
For example, a service I have been using for myself and my client, issuu.com does offer virtual flipping through the pages of publications. Anyone can set up an account and upload their own files and share with the world. They also include links where you can send your readers to more content and other sites (which is great for advertising and tracking ROI).
issuu.com changed up their basic subscription plan (A.K.A. Free) last week. They highlighted three services that they have removed from their free account and I have some thoughts on this change.
The first is the download option, so your readers would no longer be able to download your PDF to use and read as they wished. In my opinion, I don't see this as a big hit. With our limited attention span, flipping through online I don't see a large majority of readers needing to download it to read, and depending on the value of your content, you might be good with keeping it to yourself, or it encourages you to provide a link to the issue to your own site where they can download. Sort of a good practice for any business. Don't we all want traffic driven to our own websites?
The second is no more 'bulk uploads'. So if you have an inventory of publications you want to upload to your account, you will have to spread them out instead of doing them all at once. This could be a hiccup if you are just getting started and have an archive of magazines you want to upload, but I don't think worth an investment.
The third is the one that has given me pause, page level publication statistics. Free accounts will no longer have the ability to view their page-level statistics, including reads, read times and impressions for each publication. Statistics are valuable. They tell you if your content is being reached and read, shared and clicked on. So if you have a publication that depends on advertising, you will want that information to share with them to prove the value of their ad buy.
What you will still have access to is lifetime statistics for each publication.
On the flip side, if you are sharing content for the sake of sharing our ideas or just want people to get a taste for your paid offering, this won't be as much of a worry. When you link to the issue, you just need to make an effort to track those statistics on your own website, social media or email platform.
What you won't have access to is specific page-level statistics.
What would page-level statistics mean for your publication? If knowing what people are reading and what ads they are clicking on do matter to you, then it could be time to ante up for the premium features.
So my advice, f you are sharing content for the sake of sharing our ideas or just want people to get a taste for your paid offering, this won't be as much of a worry. When you link to the issue, you just need to make an effort to check in every 30 days and make note of those statistics that matter to you.
You may be asking the question, is issuu.com the only game in town? After a quick google search, a few come up and none of them seem to be free. So as in life, you will get what you pay for. From what I can see it seems issuu is the best game in town for free, okay maybe the only option, but if you are just starting out, this is a good option.
A few post reactions on social media so far:
@johnzilla87I definitely don't think it can ever take the place of a real print publication, and aside from the tactile, screens are still harder on the eyes, but at least the presentation is far better than a standard PDF. Much nicer for displaying a portfolio piece, giving clients an idea of the finished product, or giving readers a nice digital archive to access.
Dave Gouveia I dislike the fact that magazines are going this route simply because technology is not infallible. Without power (and in some cases an internet connection) you are left with nothing. A book or magazine might get ripped or wet, but you’d still have it if you got stranded on an island and needed fire. Ever set fire to a laptop? Me neither.