Why you should consider a digital subscription

By Jon Pratt

As the Circulation Manager here at Rotating Mass Media I get to play around with all the new ways to get our love for bikes into your hands. For the past few years we’ve been relying on Zinio to publish an electronic version of both Bicycle Times and Dirt Rag, our mountain bike magazine.

At the beginning of 2012 we launched both titles in the Apple Newsstand. Once established, we then started filling in both titles’ catalogs with back issues. Recently we were able to complete the entire back issue catalog of Bicycle Times, and every issue from #1 through #20 is now available!

Dirt Rag is a more complex beast. Publishing a magazine over an almost 25 year period means many different techniques have been used to physically print the magazine. Most of those processes don’t lend themselves very well to digital conversion. So…while we will strive to get some of the more important Dirt Rag issues digitized, we’ll probably never complete the entire back issue catalog. I’m currently working on getting some of the first issues into the cloud, and issues #1 through #3 are now available. Look for more soon.

Of course the world doesn’t revolve around Apple. There are other tablets, phones, and e-readers out there, so in mid-2012 we launched on the Barnes & Noble Nook. Unlike the Apple Newsstand, the Nook allows us to offer subscriptions with a monthly billing cycling which you can cancel at anytime. Barnes & Noble also gives our potential subscribers a 30 day, risk-free period to check out the current issue of either magazine.

The buzz around the office is the Article View option on the Nook. It’s pretty cool, you should check it out. And while you can purchase a single copy of the current issue, there are no back issues available for purchase through the Nook store at this time. Subscribers will always have access to the issues they have downloaded as part of their subscription, but you can’t purchase an issue you may have missed. Bummer.

No resting on our laurels over here…just recently we launched both titles in the Amazon Kindle store. Similar to the Apple Newsstand model, you can purchase subscriptions and back issues on your device. Just do a search in the Appstore for either magazine. And as is with the Nook, Kindle users get 30 days to check out the magazine before committing to a subscription purchase.

While we are primarily a printed magazine that is delivered to your door and sold in newsstands and bikes shops around the world, I’m always looking for ways to increase our digital readership because I think digital offers enhancements that can’t be produced in an analog environment. Hyperlinking, additional content, rich multimedia—there are so many possibilities in the digital form. So look for more digital launches as we expand to even more platforms in the near future. Oh and we’re working on a combination print & digital subscription but it’s an annoyingly difficult process for smaller independent publishers, so no ETA yet.

Click here to learn more about subscription options for both Bicycle Times and Dirt Rag.


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