If you have a keen eye on the print industry as I do, you’d be well aware of the doomsday talk which has existed for a number of years, telling us that newspapers and magazines are on the way out as we move into an increasingly digital world.
In some cases this has proven to be true, with various publications moving to a digital-only environment, while others are beginning to place their most-read content behind pay walls on their website as an outlet to more revenue – most notably on various News Ltd sites across the country.
While this in no means suggests that printed content is being phased out, it does suggest that companies are looking towards other sources of revenue in order to stay afloat.
Yet there are others who have embraced the digital world, not necessarily through necessity, rather through a willingness to be on the front foot.
As a football tragic, I was particularly intrigued to see the AFL bring out a digital version of the AFL Record. A rite of passage for those who go to AFL matches, the AFL Record has recently celebrated its 100th anniversary and is starting off its second century with its boldest move yet, launching a digital version.
Why is digital better?
The digital version of the AFL Record outshines its paper counterpart in a number of ways and top of the list is price.
Subscribe to the AFL Record via the iTunes App Store and it will set you back $2.99 for a single issue, or $1.99 per issue if you subscribe for the whole season.
Compare that with the $5 you would spend if you were to buy the paper edition of the AFL Record at the game and you’re already ahead.
It’s not just price, however, where the digital version of the AFL Record stands on the shoulders of its more traditional counterpart. It’s in the content as well. By downloading the digital version of the AFL Record, you’re also getting video and audio content in addition to all the articles of the printed edition.
It’s this cross-section of media which holds the key to the future of publishing. Imagine the latest edition of your favourite music magazine which has snippets of the songs or albums they’re reviewing, or your favourite movie magazine having embedded trailers for the films they’re reviewing or previewing.
Then there’s the lack of clutter. A magazine subscriber may be loathe to hold onto back issues of their favourite magazine if they take up valuable space in their home. Digital versions would simply reside on your tablet or hard drive.
Then, of course, are the smaller benefits such as the print not smudging, friends not being able to dog-ear pages, and hopefully any spills can be easily cleaned without leaving stains.
Are there any negatives?
That depends on your levels of sentimentality!
I’ve been to countless footy games where the AFL Record has been my outlet for frustration. You can tell just by looking at old issues how stressful the match in question was.
If the AFL Record is twisted tight, ripped or crumpled, then the match was a close win and my team probably lost. Then there’s the tradition of marking scores down on the centre pages as the game progressed.
You wouldn’t want to twist your iPad in your hands if the game gets stressful, and you can’t mark the scores on the screen (not without leaving a permanent reminder).
Another possible negative relating directly to the AFL Record is whether or not you’d want to take your iPad or tablet to a football match. If you’re seated in a plush private box, maybe so, but the rest of us prefer to venture into the ground without any expensive electronics.
Whether or not you consider these to be negatives would relate to your level of personal relationship with the publication in question.
I’m willing to overlook the negatives in favour of the positives in this instance and can only hope some of my other favourite magazines follow suit with digital versions of print publications.