I tend to be more than a little skeptical when I hear words like “revolutionary”, “game-changing” or the “next big thing” because it is easy to get really excited about a shiny new technology and devolve into hyperbole.
However, after having my world rocked three times this fall by emerging technologies, I’m just about ready to declare digital magazines, e-books and interactive publications “the next big thing.” The first such publication causing me to sit up and take notice is the Times Reader from the NY Times. Distributed using Adobe AIR, it looks and reads like a newspaper, but has the immediacy and flexibility of a Web site.
Two months later, Patagonia’s first online-only catalog appeared in my inbox. The Fall 09 Surf Catalog mirrors the lush, photo-rich design of the print catalog and adds interactive rollovers, optional videos and a simple way to navigate through the site. I’d read online magazines before, but this was a completely new experience. Rather than looking like a print catalog ported to the Web, the surf catalog obviously had been designed from the ground up to take full advantage of the Internet as a publishing medium.
Today, my world was rocked again by the Tabletized Sports Illustrated. Although Apple’s tablet is nothing more than a rumor, this hasn’t stopped publishers of all stripes from imagining how content can be created, viewed and published on a tablet-sized iPhone.
Like the Patagonia surf catalog, the Tabletized Sports Illustrated is visually rich as the articles look more like a vestige of generations past than the primary focus of the publication.
Of course, not all publications will lend themselves well to this online, interactive format. But as the Internet has already proven, we content consumers are quick to adapt to new technologies and mediums when it improves our experience, offers us a deeper appreciation of our favorite subjects or provides a new perspective on the world.
These three publications have certainly given me a new perspective on what the future holds for the magazine and newspaper industries. And you can bet, I’m planning my efforts accordingly.
In the next post, I’ll discuss ways you can begin adapting your skills and your workflow to transition from print to interactive publishing.