GMA News Online | 1 July 2011
By Melvin G. Calimag
DOHA, Qatar — With e-tablets such as the iPad finally tipping the balance in favor of electronic media, editors of science magazines are convinced that magazines would still be around – except that their print version would play second fiddle only to electronic variants.
In a session titled “From Ink to Electrons: Managing the Science Magazine Transition to the Digital Age" at the on-going World Conference of Science Journalists, panellists said that while e-tablets have turned magazine publishing upside down, opportunities still abound.
“E-readers are really taking over," said Rosalind Reid of Harvard University, who used to edit the American Scientist magazine before crossing over to the academe.
According to Reid, the “new magazine world" will become pervasive as this will allow consumers to create “personal table of contents" and “multi-layer touch interfaces" that will encourage further exploration for readers.
As for the business side, Reid said magazines can still make money in the traditional way through the same “subscription model" that may even pave way for an “ad-free science niche". But Reid pointed out that in order for science magazines to flourish, it should have – or exceed – the rich graphics that its print siblings offer.
“A good way to do this is to have a technology like HTML 5 which can be coded once and can run on any device." Wilson da Silva, editor and co-founder of Cosmos, an Australia-based science magazine, said the arrival of the iPad presents “the biggest threat and biggest opportunity" for magazines.
“The installed base of users is still small, but it is growing," said da Silva, adding that all magazines now need a digital footprint.
Da Silva said the future of electronic magazines is bright, noting that the prospect of animating the graphics currently present in print magazines could further enhance interaction with readers.
The session, which was moderated by Tom Siegfried of US-based Science News, also had Jennifer Bogo, editor of Popular Mechanics magazine as one of the panellists.