Why establish your own newsstand?

by VESNA ZAVRNIK, EDITION DIGITAL

May 2016

Selling digital magazines is one of the biggest challenges every publisher faces when in digital publishing. The challenge comes with a dilemma: to launch and manage your own online store or to simply sell on established marketplaces such as the Apple Store? Let’s take a look at the benefits and disadvantages of both.

Established marketplaces

Mobile apps are a convenient channel that bring content straight to your readers’ tablets and mobile devices. Therefore, it would seem to be the most obvious option to sell your content through online marketplaces like Apple Store, Google Play and Amazon. Millions and millions of readers browse these marketplaces every day and your magazine could strongly benefit from this potential.

Sure, all of these stores will keep a percentage of your sales, usually 30 – 40%. But this cost is something publishers selling print copies are very familiar with and is a fair deal considering the potential of readers these marketplaces can bring you.

Of course there is also a downside to selling your content through popular online stores. Some experts, such as David Hicks, argue that large app stores have become very inconvenient for users to find what they want. Having your magazine app sit next to the thousands of other apps available makes it hard to stand out.

Another issue is that publishers get no data about who bought their product as the buyers’ database is owned by, for example, Apple and not you. So all this valuable data which could be a big help in the marketing strategy of your digital magazine is not available to you. And you need this knowledge to increase revenue.

Your own store

Selling your digital magazines on your own site is a great way to build your audience and grow a stronger brand, rather than depending solely on third party marketplaces.

Furthermore, you retain 100% of the revenue and own the customers’ data.

For strong brands that users look for it makes much more sense to offer access to their content directly from the website they control. 

Another benefit of managing your own store is the ability to be flexible about which selling strategy to employ. Selling single copies and subscriptions, offering membership access to all your current and past issues, all of this is achievable through your own website. 

More importantly your readers are in control of when and where they read the magazines they purchase. As an average user nowadays accesses digital content via at least three various devices depending on the time and the place, allowing them to access the content they purchase online through apps and vice versa, is a smart move. After all, attracting readers and keeping them happy is what your business is all about.

However, publishers don’t often consider managing their own online store as it requires them to have an in-house tech team or to outsource development. This is too often an obstacle, especially for smaller publishers. For them, keeping the costs of production and distribution as low as possible makes all the difference if they want to make their digital edition a success.

Luckily, some innovative publishing platform providers offer simple and cost effective solutions tailored to their needs. One of them is Edition Digital. Our solution enables the publisher to set up their own branded newsstand in minutes, with complete user management and unified access control over web and apps content, and allows them to retain all the revenue. All this with money paid directly to their PayPal account, and with no coding or start-up costs.

Integrated sales strategy

Online marketplace or your own store? That is not really a question. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

I’d advise the following though:

  1. Building your own brand, investing in your own sales channels, knowing who your customers are and what they are reading should be your primary focus.
  2. Equally important is to make your content available wherever your readers are and to take advantage of all the possible sales channels you can think of.
  3. And by all means, whichever sales strategy you decide upon, promote your digital magazine. Your own website, social media channels, e-mail marketing, push notifications, ads in your print edition, are all great channels to attract readers and make your digital magazine a success.

Building your own brand, investing in your own sales channels, knowing who your customers are and what they are reading should be your primary focus.