It’s a brave new world in today’s publishing market. The advent of miniature technological marvels such as the iPad, Kindle, Nook, and the myriad of other electronic reading devices on the market today mean that publishers have more diverse and immediate options for producing and delivering content than ever before. Newspapers and magazines alike are moving from traditional print media to electronic delivery, in some cases bypassing even web site content models in favor of delivering digital media directly to subscribers’ devices.
For scrapbookers, this new media outlet can be a wonderful place to obtain new content. Digital media doesn’t require physical storage beyond your computer’s (or device’s) drive, is quick to access, and in many cases is portable on certain devices. There is no current industry standard, however, on platforms for delivery and access of digital content, so scrapbookers should educate themselves on the available options before making a purchase. I’ve collected digital publication data for several major scrapbooking magazines and compiled it all into a handy reference that should help when making purchasing decisions.
Creating Keepsakes does not offer a digital subscription to their magazine at this time, though premium members of their Club Creating Keepsakes community (currently $19.95 per year) are granted access to select digital back issues of Creating Keepsakes, Simple Scrapbooks, and Digital Scrapbooking magazines as well as a few special issues and books as one of the perks of membership. [Note: While this article was still in the editing process, Creating Keepsakes announced that they will be discontinuing the premium features of Club Creating Keepsakes as of December 2011 and will immediately stop selling paid memberships. No announcement has been made as to whether another form of online access to any Creating Keepsakes issues will be provided as a replacement. And that, my friends, is how quickly things are changing in this industry!] These issues are presented on the web-based based Issuu platform (using Adobe Flash) and are not downloadable for offline viewing. This also means that they are not viewable on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. Creating Keepsakes also offers all of their 2010 issues for purchase on CD for $14.95.
Papercrafts, a sister magazine of Creating Keepsakes, does not currently offer online access to any of their publications whether by subscription or as a catalog of back issues. Like Creating Keepsakes, though, they do offer their 2010 back issues on CD for $14.95.
Scrapbooks, Etc. recently moved their online publication wing from its previous host at Coverleaf to a new home on Zinio. The Zinio service provides applications for viewing on a number of platforms, including Windows and Macintosh computers and the iPad. A digital subscription to Scrapbooks, Etc. through Zinio is $19.97, which is actually higher than the current print subscription price of $14.95 as offered on the Scrapbooks, Etc. web site. One benefit to subscribers that was lost in the transition from Coverleaf to Zinio is access to digital versions for print subscribers. Under the Coverleaf platform, print subscribers could register to receive digital versions of the same magazine for no additional cost. This option is not available to print subscribers through Zinio.
Northridge Publishing (publisher of Scrapbook Trends magazine) offers digital subscriptions to all of their publications at a deeply discounted rate from both the cover and print subscription prices. A single-title digital subscription is $4.99 per month, and an “All-Access Pass” that provides readers with subscriptions to Scrapbook Trends, Cards, Simply Handmade, Bead Trends, and the Create Idea Book series is $9.99 per month. Subscribers have the option of adding Northridge’s Cricut magazine to the All-Access Pass for an additional $1.50 per month. Special issues and books such as Jessica Sprague’s “Stories In Hand” are also often made available to purchase in digital format, again at rates significantly less than the cover price. Northridge provides access to their digital publications either online as a download for offline viewing through the Yudu platform, which is Flash based and thus not compatible with the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.
F+W Media has several digital offerings for scrapbookers. Back issues of Memory Makers magazine (no longer in publication) are available to purchase on CD from their online store. Regular issues from 2006, 2007, and 2008 are all available as well as select special issues. All issues are provided in PDF format, which is viewable on any number of platforms including the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.
F+W also offers a large number of their idea books- including the popular PageMaps 2 by Becky Fleck – in eBook format on Amazon’s Kindle device. Due to limitations of the Kindle format, however, many of the visual elements that are integral to craft and hobby books such as icons, backgrounds, and complex page designs are lost in the translation to eBook format. The basic content and photos are present, but the experience for the reader is greatly diminished by the platform’s formatting limitations. A few recent F+W titles are also available through Apple’s iBook store, including Page Maps 2, but there again the format has limitations.
Canada-based Scrapbook and Cards Today has perhaps the most interesting digital publishing model of the current crop of available magazines. All issues of their magazine, both current and back catalog, are available to download in PDF format from their web site free of charge. Subscribers also have the option of paying for a traditional print subscription to this quarterly publication. iPad, iPhone, and almost all eReader owners can rejoice that this magazine is freely available in a format that is compatible with their device (though it will of course be best viewed on devices with color screens).
The lack of periodical publications for some of the most popular electronic reading devices can leave scrapbookers starved for fresh content. Several manufacturers have actually stepped in on their own to fill this void by providing free PDF newsletters on a regular (often monthly) basis. These newsletters serve the dual purpose of advertising manufacturers’ products directly to consumers and providing project ideas, page sketches, and editorial content to customers. My Mind’s Eye’s “In the Blink of an Eye,” Basic Grey’s “Just the Basics,” and Pink Paislee’s “Live Pink” are just three examples of this trend.
The portable content vacuum has also opened up a niche for independent publishers. Ella Publishing, founded by Simple Scrapbooks alums Lain Ehmann, Wendy Smedley, and Angie Lucas, sells professionally written, edited, and formatted scrapbooking eBooks through their web site. All eBooks are in PDF format and compatible with a wide array of platforms and devices. Bloggers can leverage Amazon’s Kindle store to provide their feeds as subscriptions that readers can download for later reading offline. Scrapbook Update, along with several other scrapbooking blogs, is available on Kindle.
The current fragmented state of digital publishing can be a confusing place. Scrapbookers have to keep track of which publications offer digital content at all, whether that content is available on a subscription basis or as back issues only, what platform and compatibilities are applicable to that content, and how much the digital content costs. That last one is the stickiest – under many of the offerings outlined here, scrapbookers can be left paying for digital content that they’ve already purchased in paper form, or in some cases paying more for the digital version of content than the printed version. Rules also vary widely on whether current print subscribers can convert their existing subscriptions to a digital format.
Digital publishing as a whole, not just publishing for scrapbookers and papercrafters, is without a doubt experiencing some growing pains as this new market is expanded and tested currently. These are exciting times, even with the frustrations being experienced right now, and as long as scrapbookers remain educated about the available choices and platform compatibilities they can enjoy stress-free access to this new media outlet.
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