Just to bring in a perspective; “Times of India” or “The Hindu”?

or say, “The Guardian” or “The New York Times”?

I enjoy reading The Economic Times, I’ve an annual print subscription of the ET which I enjoy reading especially articles in Page 6 – Disruption: Startups & Tech. You won’t believe but it’s less than Rs.1000/- per annum. With Times of India thrown in, I end up paying less than Rs. 1800/- (Can’t recall the cheque I signed last year but definitely less than Rs.1800) for the whole year.

Many a times when I’m travelling and don’t get access to print copy, I can easily read Economic Times at epaper.timesofindia.com which offers exact replica of paper in digital format with bonus of having an option to read different city edition.

If you love “The Hindu” for its writing, you will love it in print. If you love it more you will get its Digital subscription too. Most of the international newspapers like “The New York Times”, or “WSJ” or “Medium” fiercely guard their content and give only limited reading options and coax you for subscription. If you love reading thoroughly analysed articles having focussed storytelling approach in technology and startups space, you will love the Bangalore based “The Ken” too which offers DIGITAL ONLY access to its rich content with paid subscription at price of Rs. 2,750/- (plus GST) annually.

When we talk about premium magazines from fashion and lifestyle space like Harpers Bazaar, Marie Claire, GQ, Elle, Allure, Verve, Vogue etc. they treat their medium (print or digital) as different target (read revenue) segments. Whether they want to be an encyclopaedia of advertisers because of their capability to reach a wider section of audiences (Think Times of India’s Four Full Page Ads during Dussehra celebrations) or have very niche content for a dedicated audience the advertisers will line up in any case.

I have noticed that most of the premium automobile magazines like Autocar, Motor Trend, Automobile magazine, Bang Shift etc. have free digital approach to excite their large audiences who may not end up buying the car of their dreams but still will love it, aspire for it, talk about it and will create an aura of luxury around it.

Times of India due to its mass number of readers enjoys revenue from advertisers (print subscription cost is too low to even cover the costs and digital is free). The revenue from their website content and advertisement is a parallel profit center. On the other hand, publishers like The Hindu and The Ken don’t mind missing those volume-based eyeballs if they are able to get value based dedicated readers and in-turn dedicated sponsors. To that matter of fact even YourStory, which produces large number of content on a daily basis, gets its revenue from dedicated advertisers who wish to reach the entrepreneurial crowd available mostly on digital platforms and hard to reach through a printed magazine.

The printed magazines add its charm in a star rated hotel’s lobby and coffee table of a spa, salon or cafés. Nothing remotely digital can beat the smell and beauty out of those fresh pages.

For a publisher, it’s not a debate on print or digital, I don’t think it’s a dilemma now to go for a print only or digital only version. The real predicament lies in publisher’s viewpoint which is simple – Revenue. They just need to decide from where to get the revenue based on the quality and frequency of content and resources available to make the content reach the intended targeted audience.

As far as a reader is concerned, if the reader/ consumer is a fan of the publication you can find them reading it either in digital or in hard format. It is the first timers for whom a publisher needs to strategise, how to make the magazine/ book in front of them. Digital platforms do their best to create rich content discover-able at a cost effective way.

Personally, as a reader I will continue reading my ET’s startup page on printed paper and if not, will end up reading on e-paper. But, if I’ve to wear shoes of publisher, it would be easier for me to silently place my magazine at a right table than fighting out in gigabytes of data with optimized search engines and social media.

Digital for Discovery. Print is Forever.

Shashikant Pushpakar