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The State of Digital Publishing in the Scrapbooking Industry

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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22 Responses to The State of Digital Publishing in the Scrapbooking Industry

  1. AnnaMarie Lubow June 1, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    I recently tested digital download from two companies, Stampington and Interweave Press. Stampington was very difficult to download and read and upon discussion they did send me a disc of the content. Interweave Press, Studios, was easily downloaded and very easy to read.

    I sort of miss having the magazine to cut up and file away but I realized that I can more easily access the digital content, especially if I keep a detailed notes file on where things are.

    I look forward to more companies making digital content easier to download and read on my Ipad or on my MacBook. One thing that will hopefully translate to this kind of format is longer articles and more detailed instructions. Without the limitations of the cost of a print run this should be much easier to do.

    I’d also like to see more instructors put their classes out on digital format as I’d happily pay for a class but frankly paying for the travel and hotel costs (not to mention bed bugs!!!!) is beyond my budget. Tim Holtz does some of the best demo type videos I have seen and to be able to take a full class in this manner would be well worth the cost.

  2. Debbie Hodge June 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    At Masterful Scrapbook Design all of our class materials, including a monthly “seminar,” two inspiration galleries and four webinars are published in pdfs, mp3s and mp4s for computer screens, e-readers, tablets and smartphones (including the ipad and iphone.)

  3. Amy Jenkins June 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Super excited to see that Scrapbooks Etc has gone to Zinio. . . now if only they’ll offer it for the iphone. . . I now subscribe to more magazines then ever before- all of which except for 1 are available on Zinio’s iphone app. Will wait to see if it becomes available on Iphone.

  4. Scrap n' Art Magazine June 2, 2011 at 3:58 am #

    I dont normally chime in but I have to say that our publication, Scrap n’ Art Magazine was the first digitally downloadable magazine on the market in February 2008, atleast to my knowledge. Our full print quality, downloadable publication has evolved into being fully online while maintaining the ability to print sections individually or the entire publication at once. Additionally you are able to PDF individual articles and tutorials for easy offline viewing.

    Each month we provide our subscribers with a wide variety of paper crafting, digital scrapbooking and mixed media editorials, projects and tutorials along with indepth reviews of products. Additionally, we provide full digital downloads, collage sheets and all past issues free to our subscribers. Plus some great prizes for subscribers only. We just gave away a Filp Pal Mobile Scanner to one lucky subscriber!

    Our format is clean, professional and our staff of 12 from all over the world really brings their passion and skills to the table, the only difference between us and the big guys is that we dont spend money on paper…we are truly eco friendly and started when it wasnt so cool.

    Sorry for the interruption, as I enjoy all publications print and digital and we all have a place in spreading the inspiration and passion that we have for this industry. We just do it on a smaller scale, but a whole lot of heart and hard work.

    Come on by and check us out at http://www.ScrapnArt.com and see for yourself. Our hard work and passion for this industry shows!

  5. Kelly Sill June 2, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    After flipping through years of scrapbook magazines, tearing out pages I want to keep and filing them in binders, I am looking forward to the day all scrapbook magazines (and crafting magazines in general are in digital form! Magazines in digital form will get rid of clutter around my scrapbook room (and the house in general) and is much better for the enviroment! I love the way magazines download through Zinio on my iPad and the appearance is lovely!

    The Skyfire App for iPad is an internet browser that allows you to view Flash videos. iPad users may want to check it out!

  6. Summer Mobley June 2, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Yes, they are easier to store, but I feel so disconnected from an article or book when it’s on a little screen instead of looking back at me from a friendly page. I realize that my one small voice in the middle of a sea of electronic devices won’t change the trend, but I MUCH prefer real ink&paper any day!!!!

    • Barbi Barber June 2, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      I hear ya, sister!!! As much as I don’t want to admit it too loudly, I am very old-school when it comes to this subject. Sometimes, I just need that tactile magazine page for inspiration to go play with paper. As for all those back issues I own, well, I suppose I will remain the librarian and curator.

  7. Lain June 2, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Don’t forget us indy types! Many scrap professionals are publishing their own content independently through their blogs and other websites. It’s fantastic to be able to keep control of the creative process — and keep a larger percentage of the revenues.

  8. Caroll June 2, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Thanks for gathering the info! I already take advantage of Northridge Pubs All-Access subscription and love it! I had a bit of a glitch in the beginning but they took care of it lightening quick. Hats off to them! I can’t bring myself to pay more for a digital issue than the print version, so I’ll continue getting Scrapbooks, Etc in the mail. As for the ladies who posted before me, I’ll be visiting your sites soon!

  9. Terri Harmon June 2, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    I have to agree that I’m with Summer and Barbie on the E-format issues. While I will check my email via the phone I still prefer nice large images. I get most of my digital info from my computer screen (nice big monitor) and enjoy what comes to me via blogs, emails, and facebook pages. Maybe because I’m retired I don’t feel the need to have the portability of I-Pad, Kindle, etc. And, when I see something I like, I still print it out to take into my scrap room or file away with my project. I haven’t been able to bring myself to pay for a digital subscription. Possibly because I own some of those CD’s with a year’s worth of magazines and I never look at them again. I love having the various companies send me their latest and greatest right to my inbox in short, sweet, absorbable segments. Oh, and Tim Holtz videos rock! Thanks for a great article.

  10. Sharon Currier June 2, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Fascinating, and how quickly this industry has evolved! Thank you for the recap. Coincidentally, the New York Times today ran a story about e-zines in the shelter magazine industry: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/garden/the-thriving-online-shelter-magazine-industry.html?pagewanted=4&_r=1&ref=garden. Great minds think alike! Sharon Currier, http://www.curriercomm.com.

  11. Grant Madsen June 2, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    We, too have chosen to publish our how-tos, project ideas, video,s sketches and more via our Studio blog (http://americancrafts.typepad.com/).

    It’s not a dedicated iPhone, iPad, iPod or Andoid app, nor is it a self-published PDF, but the page can be accessed via the web browser on any smart phone.

  12. Carrie MacGillis June 2, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Interesting article. Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine is not available in a digital format yet, but we do have an e-newsletter. We are a small, local magazine, but are very interested in seeing what the rest of the industry is doing!

  13. Donna Patterson June 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    I still like paper. Not interested in digital format. I don’t read a lot of things I get thru email but if I get a magazine in the mail I definitely read it.

    • VickyR June 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      I agree Donna. My email box is so full of spam and emails from vendors that, supposedly only wanted my email address in case of shipping issues that everything legit gets lost.. Give me a paper magazine that I can read on a trip, in bed, or sitting on my deck. A magazine won’t be lost in a hard drive crash or need a supscription service to be backed-up.

  14. pegg June 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Thanks for this review! I subscribe to Paper Crafts and Creating Keepsakes. I would likely subscribe to more if they were available in digital form! I will look into Scrapbooks Etc. Wish they would follow what The New Yorker has done – create app for digital subscription – free for print subscribers.

    This is definitely where print is going – I think these companies should get on board now. I think video is great too – new interactive way to show new products. SELL new products and also instruct. I love watching people craft and make layouts on youtube!

  15. Pamela McGillin June 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    I love digital content or web content, especially as an extra to the actual magazines. I have a digital subscription to Scraptrends & I love it, but you don’t own it, you can’t just grab it. I’ve had many difficulties when I try to login on different computers, you have to have downloaded it from your home ISP before it is unlocked on other computers, even if you downloaded for offline viewing, it doesn’t always work.
    When you buy a magazine, you buy a magazine, it’s your’s, in 10 years if you want to look at it, it’s there. With digital, if you’re not a subscriber, will you still have access? What if the magazine went belley-up? What if your computer crashed, will they let you download it again?
    Digital is great as a plus, but it still has a long way to go to provide us with the same benefits we get from our print copy now.

  16. Pamela McGillin June 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    Oops, I meant Scrapbook Trends! (would you believe I reread that twice before hitting okay).

  17. MichelleC June 3, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    With the popularity of the iPad it would be nice if the publishers that offer digital would get their act together and offer it in a format readable for the iPad/iPhone. (The whole flash thing with Adobe and Apple is a whole other annoying topic). I would love to subscribe to scrappy digital magazines, if they actually worked on the iPad.

  18. Anne B. June 17, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    For me, nothing will ever replace the feel and quality of paper magazines. I don’t read e-zines and publishers who try to force the issue by only publishing in that format will lose a customer. The joy of this hobby is the visual and tactile experience and digital will never provide that. I get that others like it, even prefer it and I just hope that subscribers will continue to have options.

  19. Stephanie Medley-Rath June 21, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Thanks for pulling this altogether in one place. I am planning on a tablet purchase and one my primary reasons for the purchase is to get rid of physical clutter. Another reason for my move to digital content is so that I can actually have idea books and magazines at my fingertips when I am scrapbooking (and no, I’m not even a digi scrapper). I think print and digital content can co-exist, but honestly, I’m to the point that if you don’t have it in digital format, then I’m probably not going to be buying it much longer. (Why do I feel like the scrapbook industry is repeating history by not adapting to e-readers/tablets very easily or quickly?)

  20. Aimee January 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Fyi – northridge dropped yudu for 3dissue which is viewable on the iPad!

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