Wilson Fletcher

The death of the digital magazine?


We were joined by a brilliant panel from both digital and print publishing for a breakfast discussion of what publishers should be doing to ensure the digital success of their titles.

Image from Wilson Fletcher

Jonny Kaldor, co-founder of Kaldor Ltd and co-creator of Pugpig, kicked off by drawing interesting parallels between the state of the magazine industry today and the music industry ten years ago. Publishers, Jonny stressed, must invest in digital, innovate and be unafraid of taking a few risks.

Jonny was followed by Rob Boynes, consultant creative director and UX designer at Dennis Publishing and Contentment, who started by removing the question mark from ‘the death of the digital magazine.’ “This is not a typo.” Rob used the example of Pinterest as a very untraditional publisher succeeding by simplifying the input/output process of publishing stories. He imagined a simple way of treating content that is without silos, sorted by time and relevance and always digital first.

Next, Chris Harris, CEO of Glide Creations, talked through the economic challenge facing publishers. Chris highlighted the need for publishers to change their business models as content is becoming less scarce and less expensive online. He showed how Glide was helping publishers think beyond the page.

Finally, Simon Esterson, art director of Eye magazine, discussed the importance of the way content is delivered: “Everyone has been talking about content, but I’m interested in form and content.” He showcased beautiful examples from the world of print of brilliant content imaginatively designed and innovatively presented, including pages from The New Yorker, Il, Bloomberg Businessweek and Curves – a magazine dedicated to astonishing roads. There was a collective sigh in the room.

The presentations were followed by a lively discussion about what publishers should be doing next. "What seems clear to me is the importance of bravery," asserted our very own Mark Wilson. "Publishers need to have the balls to innovate, which they seem more able to do in print than digital bizarrely." Jonny Kaldor agreed, challenging the assumption that digital magazines are indeed, dead: "We haven't failed, we just need to innovate better."

Thanks to an abundance of ideas, questions and bacon sandwiches, the morning was a great success. Many thanks to our panel for sharing their interesting perspectives, J+A Cafe for providing a great setting and everybody who attended.

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Rob Boynes

UX Designer, Dennis Publishing

Simon Esterson

Chris Harris