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Page Turning Software Not Such a Good Fit for the Web 19 May 2010

Posted by gjchatalas in Tools & Tech, Trends, Websites.
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Early this year, my company started putting our magazines into page turning software. Page turning software tries to replicate the look and experience of a print publication, but online and on a monitor. You see an image of the page spreads, and click to move forward or backward, similar to how you interact with a magazine at home.

There are lots of page turning services, and some of them offer innovative options, including in-depth metrics and benefits for advertisers.

We already have our print publications, which generate the bulk of our ad revenue. We also have portions of the publications on our website. And now we’ve added the page turning option for our site visitors. That’s because the software enabled the viewer to see the magazine as it actually appeared in print, the ads within it are clickable, and some of our clients were intrigued by this free-standing online publication.

But while this is now underway, there were nonetheless a few reasons why we were hesitant to do it in the first place. One was resource-related: it costs money to have a magazine converted to the digital version. But also, the content in a page turning edition isn’t searchable on the web. This second factor is making me question the wisdom of our decision. That’s because these page turning editions don’t utilize the advantages of the web.

Let’s face it, people don’t read online the same way they do a newspaper. When we’re on the Internet, we search and follow links, moving quickly among stories and to other related information and sites. We share and comment and contribute. Basically, the user controls how he wants to access and absorb information; successful sites allow and encourage navigation and interaction.

In contrast, the printed publication controls how the reader sees and views the content. The format forces a reader to go page-by-page through the publication, rather than move freely. There are no links, navigation is weak, and interaction is difficult.

What is becoming clear is that page turning software takes the limitations of print to the web. And that doesn’t make much sense. For the few positives these digital editions offer, they thwart the manner in which we’ve become accustomed to accessing our information online. Thus, I think I need to reconsider our investment in the technology.

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