The Digital Revolution

With more publications opting to go digital, digital publication platform apps are becoming more and more important. Photo from Unsplash.

Four different digital publication platforms’ details showcased

By Ryan Ng

As increasing numbers of magazines and newspapers offer their publication online, many are choosing digital readers as a way of replicating the traditional reader experiences.

Digitizing publications is not necessarily a new thing. Some newspapers have been trying this since the 1990s, though rudimentarily. However, digital editions with platforms have become increasingly popular since the 2000s, especially during the last decade. PressReader, for instance, began in 1999 as NewspaperDirect, a service for printing newspapers anywhere in the world. In 2003, before smartphones and tablets were popular yet, it launched an all-you-can-read service, eventually rebranding as PressReader, focusing on a digital service.

Here are four of the most popular on the market today—and what you can expect with each.

Issuu

Founded in 2006

Best Features: Issuu is easy to use and easy to view, especially with larger formats such as newspapers. It looks and feels like a direct conversion from a physical to a digital copy. The embedding feature allows creators to link visual pieces in the story. Its selection contains a large number of smaller and self-publications. 

Biggest drawback: Issuu lacks many useful features such as bookmarks, text-to-speech and, most prominently, a text view option which makes it easier to read individual articles.

Pricing: Free to use.

Libby (by OverDrive)

Founded in 2018

Best Features: Libby’s library contains many well-known magazine titles along with a useful preference and explore feature to make finding new magazines easier. It is easy to navigate and learn its features which include samples, customization options, search within the text and bookmarks. As Libby requires a library card to access, it is easy to borrow and will automatically return from your “shelf”.

Biggest drawback: Libby’s layout isn’t particularly clean or smooth to operate and its reader may stutter a bit with transitions. 

Pricing: Free with a library card.

Zinio

Founded in 2001

Best Features: Zinio’s clean and intuitive layout makes it a pleasure to browse. Its explore feature allows readers to discover magazines through single article samples in its expansive selection. The text reader is also clean and simple. The ability to change newsstand selections to other countries is a bonus for those who enjoy international magazines. 

Biggest drawback: Zinio can be rather expensive as there are is no full-access subscription, only single issue and subscription purchases for each magazine.

Pricing: Depends on the publication for single issues and subscriptions.

PressReader

Founded in 2003

Best Features: PressReader’s has a huge selection of both magazines and newspapers that can be accessed with a library card, purchased individually or with a full access monthly subscription. Its layout remains accessible to use while offering plenty of features. Browsing and discovering are clear and organized. The reader works about as well as any other but also includes a well-designed text-to-speech and the ability to easily tap on headlines to access articles in text view mode.

Biggest drawback: PressReader’s text view mode can mess up the text format leaving awkward spacing and cut-offs. 

Pricing: Free with a library card, individual issue cost, or $39.99 per month for full access.

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