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What's the best format for your digital magazine?

Example MagCast Digital Magazine Covers

Choosing the Best Digital Magazine Publishing Platform

Before we dive into the comparison of the most popular formats for a digital magazine, let's take a look at what your goals are for your magazine.

This starts with these factors:

  1. What type of magazine are you publishing?
  2. What format do you want to deliver it in?
  3. What impression are you trying to give your readers?
  4. What's your budget?

Obviously, we're a platform all about giving you a real magazine app so we're biased, but before we get to app-based magazines, let's look at the alternatives.

Woman Reading a Digital Magazine
Meet Your Readers on their Favorite Devices

How your readers are reading your content is almost as important as the content itself.

With an app-based magazine, your content goes with them—even when they're offline.

Common Formats for Digital Magazines

e-zine / webzine
A basic webzine is an accessible option for most. Web hosting is relatively inexpensive, and WYSIWYG editors are ubiquitous, and make page creation easy enough for most beginners.

Readers can access the magazine content directly from their desktop or mobile browsers.
ePub and eBook Formats
Magazines can be delivered in eBook formats like ePub or MOBI, suitable for eReaders like Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, or other eBook reader devices and apps.
The PDF format is widely used for digital magazines as it maintains the layout and design of the print version. PDF magazines can be distributed through websites, email, or digital publishing platforms.
Magazines created using HTML5 and CSS are essentially webzines like those described above. Where they differ is in their use of animations to give the experience of turning pages. They can be accessed across different devices via a web browser.
Email Newsletter
Magazines can be delivered directly to subscribers' email inboxes. Readers can access the content without visiting a separate website or app.
Mobile Magazine (iOS and Android Apps)
Magazines can be distributed as standalone mobile applications for operating systems like iOS (Apple App Store) and Android (Google Play Store).

These apps can offer a native and optimized reading experience. Embedded rich media can offer an enhanced reading experience on smartphones and tablets.

Magazine apps can also utilize platform-specific features and offer offline reading capabilities.

Magazine apps also have the advantage of placing your branded icon on your reader's home screen.

Factors in Choosing the Right Digital Magazine Format

As overwhelming as the choices might seem at first, in reality, choosing your format is really pretty simple.

It boils down to:

  • budget
  • target audience
  • distribution strategy
  • desired features
  • the level of interactivity you want

Many digital publishers choose to use a combination of formats to reach a wider audience.

All of the above are easy enough for most people. Yes, even apps.

If you can save a PDF, you can publish a magazine app for iOS and Android. (Hint: it's easy even for novices.)

Vegan Lifestyle Magazine
Professional Quality

How you're perceived by readers and advertisers affects your bottom line.

An app-based magazine reflects your brand's quality and professionalism in a very good light.

Since they're all within your skillset, let's start with budget.

If you have none, there are options. In fact, there are several free digital magazine website publishing platforms.

These services make money by displaying advertising across your content. The look can be less professional because there is no user control over what advertising appears.

Your beautiful magazine celebrating vegan living could display ads for Jack in the Box.

Email mailing lists can also be a budget friendly option, since they can be managed from any email address.

Believe it or not, ePub/eBook formats also fall into the lower cost end of the spectrum.

At their core, eBooks are essentially HTML, and the sales channels (Amazon, etc.) take their cut at the time of sale.

The down side with eBook format for magazine publishing specifically, is the single page at a time display.

Webzines are the next step up from free (at least with regards to cost). Hosting and development costs can add up.

Next up are the digital magazine app publishing platforms, and with gorgeous retina displays, multimedia, capability, native reading, on or offline, plus home screen real estate, a magazine app is a step above in quality and professionalism.

The MagCast Difference

So, what do the magazine app publishing platforms cost and which is the best?

Unfortunately, most won't tell you what they cost.

They have complicated formulas for calculating their pricing, with various tiers for bandwidth usage, number of issues, download volume, number of readers, and any number of other nonsense.

And, their prices can be astronomical.

Most are "Call for pricing."

Only MagCast is 100% transparent about pricing. In fact, here it is.

And only MagCast offers unlimited:

  1. bandwidth
  2. magazine issues
  4. readers
  5. special issues

Further, to help MagCaster publishers launch and grow their magazines, membership includes 90 days of MagCast Academy (weekly live training in Zoom) plus weekly one-on-one sessions with our publishing experts.

MagCast is a publisher-first platform, built by publishers, for publishers.

If that's decided it for you, call 888.876.8586 today, or visit our platform tour booking page.

It's a no obligation and pressure-free chance to look under the hood and see if it's right for you.

Chances are, you'll see why so many publishers rave about MagCast.

Manchester Giants Magazine

Final Thoughts about Magazine Apps vs Other Formats

Still, on the fence? No problem, let's look at target audience, and better yet, how to reach them.

The choice here is largely between web and mobile, because targeting and outreach will mostly be pretty similar. There's a lot of crossover.

For any of the formats above you'll likely seek to leverage topical clubs/groups, influencers in the space, social media channels, and niche blogs to name a few.

The main difference? Perception.

Webzines, email newsletters, PDF zines, and other web magazine plays dropping links will most often be perceived as a nuisance, as spammers, whereas magazine apps have been vetted by Apple and Google as legitimate publications.

Plus, magazines are perceived as high-level participants and thought leaders in their niches.

And, this idea dates back (no hyperbole) centuries! That's just the way it is!

Magazines mean something to us culturally.

Perception makes a huge difference.

Wildlife Photographic Magazine

Distribution comes next, and that's pretty simple, too.

Both web and mobile require getting in front of your audience. The main difference here is that when your reader is done with your website, best case is they walk away with a bookmark.

With a magazine app, they walk away with your magazine in their pocket, living right next to Instgram, Pinterest, Uber, and all their other favorite apps.

Another important distinction here is: only MagCast offers One-Tap App Installs where one tap of a link (or QR code scan) kicks off the entire installation process no matter if they're using an iOS or Android device.

This opens up marketing opportunities unheard of on other platforms and in other formats.

Apps, email newsletters, and websites can all have similar features and interactivity.

The big differences are

  1. websites are a destination (pull content)
  2. emails go out to readers (push content)
  3. magazine apps travel with your readers! (passive/native content)

If you choose to go web, email, eBook, HTML5, or straight PDF, great, no worries. Keep MagCast in mind in case you ever decide to go with an app.

We mentioned above how easy it is to publish a digital magazine app, but we'd love to show you.

Call 888.876.8586 or visit our platform tour booking page to book a platform tour today. It's a no obligation and pressure-free chance to look under the hood and see if it all feels right for you.