Blog | Walsworth

Digital Editions: A Great Option For Your Print Publication

Written by Alex Blackwell | January 6, 2016

If you produce a print product such as a magazine or catalog, you know the importance of getting your content set up in a digital format, so it has a place on the Internet and is sharable on social media. Combining print and digital gives you the best of both worlds while helping you reach a wide cross-section of readers.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance way to get your print publication online while retaining your unique design, Walsworth Digital Editions may be just what you need. Part of the digital features at Walsworth since 2008, Digital Editions is powered by Walsworth’s partner BlueToad™ and can give your publication a print-to-online home on the web with minimal involvement on your end.

Digital Editions Are User-Friendly
While publishers can avail themselves of numerous native mobile apps, including Walsworth Apps, which offer a wide range of content treatment options, a non-native mobile solution like Digital Editions has a number of advantages that are rooted in simplicity.

Because Digital Editions is a non-native mobile solution, readers can view your content on multiple devices without having to download an app first. Native apps like Walsworth Apps can provide additional exposure and can alert readers to new content, but more than half (53 percent) of online readers are still reading published content through non-native platforms.

“It’s browser-based, so you can view it from all modern devices,” said Dawn Korp, customer technical support representative with Walsworth Digital Services.

With Digital Editions, your readers can “thumb” through the pages electronically, and even better, they can follow web links inserted onto pages by Walsworth staff and can jump to desired content rather than flipping through pages looking for it in the physical edition.

One of the biggest pluses of publishing a digital copy of your publication is retaining the design that is so important for your printed product. The choices your designers made in terms of placement of stories and how they interact with art and other design elements are part of the product.

Customers Can Choose Their Level of Involvement
“We can start with very little input from the customer,” Korp said. “We can work right from their print PDF. Many of them like that part of it – there’s very little additional work on their end. Our customers can just add a link to their website or distribute it via email.”

Digital Editions customers can also easily access their own analytics dashboard, which provides multiple reports to illustrate the impacts of the digital content. This gives customers the insights necessary to modify future content that better engages their readers.

Korp said readers get access to the online Digital Editions at about the same time they have access to the printed edition.

“A Place for Both”
While native apps provide more opportunities for publishers to interact with their readers, not every publisher needs to, or is ready, to take that step. For smaller companies that don’t have the staff or budget to work with a custom app, non-native solutions can boost their digital presence with minimal maintenance.

“There’s a place for both, because our customers are at different stages in their digital development and their digital growth,” Korp said. “The digital edition is more of an entry step. ... They don’t need to have a team to work on it, and they don’t need to have a big budget.”

Teaching Digital
Much of Korp’s job involves education, because while a print customer knows how to print, for example, a cookbook and knows what goes into that process, “learning the nuances in digital takes some education and explaining and nurturing that understanding,” she said.

One of the primary examples of what a customer may need to learn is marketing the digital product versus the printed product. “Just like your print edition, you need to market it. You need to really promote it. That’s where the digital services portion of it comes in. We have lots of additional services that we can offer,” Korp said, with those services ranging from assessments to production to marketing.

“Once the project is live, I’m the liaison between customer and production, helping them get all the information, helping the team understand the requirements.”

New Platforms, New Ideas
“The way people are using digital, it just opens up new ideas,” Korp said, adding that even customer questions can lead to innovative approaches. In one case, a customer noticed a significant drop-off in readership, and the Walsworth Digital Services team discovered that the customer’s link had been posted on a tourist site in connection with an event. “When the event was over, the people no longer had that link,” she said, so the team asked the tourism site if it could put the link up on another page.

The platform grows along with the needs of publishers and readers. Among the new updates, customers can choose an option to make the edition more mobile-friendly by offering the text articles separately to the reader first, prior to displaying the printed page (readers using desktop or laptop computers could see the printed page first and have the option to see the text articles). This option is provided with no extra work from the customer and with a small incremental charge for the work involved in preparing the stand-alone articles.

Digital Editions: Are They Right for You?
A variety of factors can indicate whether Digital Editions are a good choice for your company. If you’re getting requests for online content from your readers, your sales force or your advertisers, along with increased mobile traffic to your website, these can be indicators that it’s time to make the plunge.

“Digital Editions can be a good fit for a customer who may not have additional time to devote to digital publishing, who has a smaller budget, or (who) has a smaller digital audience,” Korp said. “We can use your print PDFs and provide a finished product ready to distribute, or you can provide alternate PDFs specific for the digital edition. Although the digital editions replicate the PDF page, they do have enhanced features to be mobile-friendly, even on phones.”

“If you are looking for more features for your digital publication, you may choose a custom app,” she added. “Walsworth Apps provides an environment for a publisher to lead your readers through a more controlled interactive experience of your content. In addition to app-specific pages, you can allow readers to access any of the additional content on your website without navigating away, and provide a continuous publishing model to keep them coming back. We can build custom apps as turnkey or in a collaborative workflow with your team.”

Get to Know Your Audience
Korp stressed the importance of building and engaging a new audience for publishers who take the step into digital production to create an online magazine or catalog.

"While digital editions are often considered a first step to adding digital to publishing, building a digital audience involves promotion, discoverability, providing the right amount of content, frequency, promotion … and promotion. Walsworth can assist you with recommendations and services to help you with assessment, implementation and support."