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Summary:

Going digital-only may not suit all publishers yet, but some organisations for which paper publishing has been a means to an end are now increasingly going digital. Latest is a title on which homeless people depend for an income.

The Big Issue In The North card
photo: The Big Issue In The North

Stopping the presses today may not suit all publishers, especially those which rely on dead-tree money. But, after Newsweek’s digital-only announcement, other print users of different kinds are also now piling in to digital distribution at an increasing rate

Even homeless magazines

Now even an edition of a social-enterprise magazine, designed to give homeless people an income, is cutting back on print.

UK pedestrians are used to seeing high street The Big Issue sellers, who keep a portion of the cover price for each title they sell. Now The Big Issue In The North, a Manchester-based edition, will also ask its homeless to sell a printed card containing a code that can be redeemed for a PC or mobile version of the magazine (via announcement).

Update: The Big Issue In The North tells paidContent the digital cards will be launched alongside, not instead of, the ongoing paper edition.

Big Issue vendors buy copies from their publisher at £1, sell them for £2 and pocket the rest themselves. Going digital risks leaving those vendors with nothing to sell and no income. So the title will not allow direct-to-consumer subscriptions on devices. Either way, the link between the seller and immediacy of the content they sell is lost.

The Big Issue In The North circulation has halved in six years. FT reports: “now there is an advertising squeeze because of public sector cuts. The publication covers its costs and print and distribution is a big part of those.”

The Big Issue‘s nationwide UK edition introduced a digital edition back in 2009 via the Yudu digital store, which said it would examine ways to share digital content revenue with homeless sellers.

Car dealers

Honda Europe will stop printing showroom brochures and switch to issuing marketing on USBs by 2014 to save money, customer operations director Phil Dix told Tuesday’s Informa Telecoms & Media Industry Outlook conference in London.

Retailers

UK high street retailer Argos will now be “repositioned from a catalogue-led business to a digitally-led business” with “a leaner and more flexible cost base” in an e-commerce “digital future”, its owner Home Retail Group said on Wednesday.

That will involve “leading the market growth of digital commerce through online, mobile and tablet, and offering customers more products with the fastest, most convenient fulfilment options”. Argos has a growing online ordering business with click-to-collect, but has also retained its classical mode – at-home and in-store magazines which customers peruse to find required items.

Traditionally, not all of Argos’ customers were necessarily prevalent owners of the kinds of gadgets through which e-commerce is done, so this move now is significant, suggesting the time is right to move mail order retail from publication-supported to search-oriented for the masses.

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  1. Just to clarify, if I may: we’re not exiting print. This is a three-month trial, limited to just one city on our patch, and vendors will be able to sell either the printed version or the digital one.

    Thanks

    Kevin Gopal
    Editor
    The Big Issue in the North

  2. I think it’s a great idea: it gives readers the option of digital or print, keeps the vendor model, and is possibly an idea other publishers could embrace. It doesn’t cut the middle-man as they still need a code from a vendor to view the magazine. I wish BINorth a ton of success.

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