Posted on August 30, 2013 in Archive

The benefits of bite-sized digital weeklies

30Aug

Most magazines release their print content on a monthly basis, and their digital content in unpredictable spurts – but what could be the benefits of creating smaller digital weeklies for their audiences?Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and recently, two esteemed magazine brands have attempted to find a happy medium.

Hoping to capitalise on a frequency that’s not possible in print, and a level of editorial attention that isn’t common online, Esquire and The Atlantic have both launched digital weeklies for tablets.

Weeklies are a great idea for tablets because they are more accessible and digestible for readers, and more cost-effective for publishers.

Both magazines are attempting to deliver compact editions of their content to readers, and it’s really interesting to see how different their approaches are.

Esquire Weekly for iPad was launched in May and is published during the two weeks the monthly magazine is inactive.

It’s available free for Esquire digital subscribers in the same app as the monthly edition.

One of the primary goals of the weekly is to direct readers to content on the company’s website.

According to editor-in-chief, David Granger, the crossover between web and print readers is less than 10% and he hopes Esquire Weekly will help to bridge that gap.

The content published in the weekly will vary in exclusivity. Some content will be published to the website a short time later but will be edited slightly.

None of the content will be exactly the same and, according to a senior editor,that’s because the company wants there to be a distinct difference between the monthly, weekly, and web editions.

His dining analogy perfectly sums up Esquire’s attitude to their publications: “the Web offers fast food, the monthly magazine offers fine dining, and the weekly’s a sit-down restaurant.”

The monthly magazine’s team designs Esquire Weekly, and so it has a very similar appearance and feel.

Some readers were concerned that it would simply contain recycled or rejected material from the monthly magazine and would therefore be inferior and repetitive.

However, Esquire Weekly has received good feedback from readers who are pleased with the substance and quality of the content.

Digital weeklies - Photo of Esquire Weekly app

Bite-sized weeklies keep readers engaged between publications

The Atlantic Weekly for iPad and iPhone was released in June and complements the company’s digital focus.

The weekly includes a collection of six of the best articles posted each week on the two flagship sites, a third supporting site, and one article from the archives.

The design of The Atlantic Weekly is deliberately simple, so the reader isn’t distracted from the content.

Each article is almost entirely simple text, and aside from a photo gallery at the end of each issue, there’s hardly any interactivity. No video, audio, or pop-ups.

A senior editor of the magazine, Geoffrey Gagnon, said the articles are selected for their quality, and the company doesn’t want any bells-and-whistles to interfere with the story.

The Atlantic Weekly is sold in a different app to the monthly magazine and can be purchased for $1.99 per issue, or for $2.99 per month.

Gagnon said the weekly is an attempt by The Atlantic to reach out to tablet users and provide this growing portion of the audience with more ways to consume content.

The Atlantic’s purely curatorial strategy is beneficial for them because they don’t have to spend time and money developing new content.

Likewise, it’s a really useful service for readers because it provides them with one convenient location to find the best content produced each week.

At the moment, careful curation of digital books is seriously lacking, and it would be great to see more publishers following The Atlantic’s lead and investing in more thorough editorial practices.

Compact experiences, like the ones offered by Esquire and The Atlantic are user-friendly because they fit in with the busy lives of readers.

The web is so chaotic and full of content that readers have a hard time trying to wade through all of the content to find good quality reading material.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about how tablets can be improved in terms of web browsing and converting content from print to tablet.

And both of the aforementioned approaches are great examples. Esquire creates some extra content just for the weekly, whereas The Atlantic cherry-picks the best stuff to save readers time.

According to Pew, 34% of Americans now own tablets, and this figure is definitely rising (in the US, and worldwide).

Coupled with more detailed research into how and when tablet users consume media, this growth is encouraging for publishers: especially the large number who have been reluctant to make the switch to digital.

The benefits of tablet publishing are so substantial that they’re worthy of a blog post of their own.

Some of the main ones include: lower production costs; more frequent delivery; and an increasing target audience.

These strategies are exciting because they demonstrate how news organisations are finally thinking outside the box when it comes to digital publishing.

And more importantly, it’s great to see them trying to make news more accessible to more readers, especially tablet users!