Kalahari launches digital magazines

kalahari.net has expanded its digital content offering by selling the electronic versions of South Africa's most popular magazines online, including You, Huisgenoot, Go!, Ideas and other titles, with others to be added on an ongoing basis.

It has partnered with Zinio.com, reportedly the world's largest virtual newsstand, to deliver and plans to expand the list to include popular international titles in the near future.

Gerjo Hoffman, senior category manager, eContent says the addition of eMagazines to its offering forms part of a drive to expand its digital offering beyond eBooks.

"We are making the adoption of this new format as easy as possible through three ways. First, from a software perspective, we launched a free eBook reader software application that makes it easy for you to enjoy eBooks on your PC or Mac. Second, from a hardware perspective, we've started marketing the Elonex range of eReaders. The entry level device is the first eReader available in South Africa for under R1000. Third, we've launched a Digital Downloads channel on kalahari.net making it easy for you to find and download relevant content."

He moves on to explain that from a publisher's perspective, eMagazines will bridge the gap between paper and the Internet. "The way in which we consume media such as magazines is starting to evolve as technology enables more connected experiences. In the future, opportunities exist for publishers to provide more than just the print content by enriching the magazine reader's experience through Rich Media with links to the Internet, embedded clips and interactive features."

US trend

The 2010 Annual Digital Magazine Readership Survey of 170 000 US-based readers by Qmags released in June 2010 confirms this. The report indicates a continuing shift towards digital content and preferences. According to the survey, the use of print media declined across the board, while the use of digital magazines, websites, and other e-products soared. The reasons given were, e-products were timelier, easier to save, environmentally friendly and more searchable.

Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, a specialist business technology research house, says that South Africa has some catching-up to do but it will. "Paid-for digital content is still one of the sleeper markets in South Africa, but once the right devices come along at the right prices, the content is both what the market wants and at the price the market is willing to pay, it will see steep growth."

Co-stars not rivals

"Just as video was meant to kill the radio star back in the seventies, print media has always considered the Internet to be the enemy. It's not. Instead, it's enabled the print world to offer its readers another channel, another way in which they can consume and enjoy content. This is going to do to the magazine industry what digital photography did to the photographic industry - open up a whole new channel to market," continues Hoffman.

Read with current technology

Users will not need to invest in additional technology to sign up to receive their favourite magazine titles, all they need is a PC, netbook or Mac. IPad users can also download the Zinio application free and order their choice reads on kalahari.net. South Africans away from the country will also be able to download local magazines.

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