Shogakukan to Create Online Versions of Currently-Published Magazines

The Yukan Fuji blog reports that Shogakukan is looking to create online versions of at least 2 magazines out of its existing lineup, part of a growing trend towards creating "net" books and magazines, online versions of the print media, as a new revenue source. (Full story in extended)

It has been said that the publishing industry is in a slump lately, and truth be told, sales of books and magazines are on the decline. It is very clear that the internet is a major factor in this decline: you can easily find all varieties of information on your PC, without having to physically go to a bookstore. This, in turn, hasled to a growing movement lately to take advantage of the internet's properties by offering "net magazines" and "net books", online versions of print media, for sale.

One of the central figures in this movement is Mr. Satoshi Iwamoto, general manager of Shogakukan's Net Media Center.
"We will begin offering online versions of at least 2 of our existing magazines sometime this year. Everything, including the contents, layout, and advertisements, will be completely identical to the print edition, and there will be a page-turning feature as well. There have been "web magazines" released before that were converted to horizontal text for online viewing, but we will display the pages exactly as they appear on paper in order to convey the enjoyment you can derive from a property edited book or magazine to online users."

Shogakukan's online magazines, which are slated to be officially announced towards the middle of the month, (translator note: this article originally ran in print on 9/7) , will incorporate US firm Zinio's viewer software, which recreates the aesthetics of the printed magazines. They will be made available through the, which has a proven track record for selling magazine subscriptions.

The online edition is slated to have the same cost and release date as the print edition, but there are many benefits for readers, including time saved by not having to go to the bookstore, 24-hour availability and no concerns about the magazine running out of stock. Furthermore, they do not take up any physical space, so there are no concerns about storage, no matter how many copies you purchase. For the meantime the online edition will only be available through annual subscription packages, but Mr. Iwamoto explains that "since there are no shipping costs, it will be well-suited for selling specific back issues as well."

"We think that glancing through the contents in the online edition, and then actually browsing through a print edition by hand at the bookstore before purchasing it would work well too: holding a magazine in your hands is part of the fun as well. We would like people to choose between the print and online editions according to their own preferences."

Exposing more people to printed books and magazines through the easy and accessible online editions is also one of his aims:
"There are some people who say that distributing over the internet will hurt sales of paper copies, but book-lovers will continue purchasing printed material. The online version is geared towards people who have never purchased or read magazines in the first place. The faithful recreation of the existing print editions for our online magazines also has the added benefit of not creating any additional burdens on the publisher. We want to prove that the internet is not a publisher's enemy, and that we can benefit from online magazines as well."

According to Mr. Iwamoto, the material best suited for the online treatment is comics (manga). The reasons are that they are made by 1 or 2 authors, making copyrights relatively easy to handle, and they appeal to a very wide demographic, including users from overseas. He therefore plans on aggressively calling on fellow publishers to release online magazines as well, with a focus on manga.

As the very first publisher to move towards digitization, Shogakukan's actions are being watched with great interest by other publishers. It remains to be seen if online magazines will become a new revenue source for the publishing industry, but we have high hopes. (Ran 9/07/06 in the Yukan Fuji newspaper)

translated by Neuroretardant

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

The comic book market has

The comic book market has been taken over by manga. This new type of comic books have a wider range of subjects and personages for readers to choose from. We're all tired of the classic superhero with the ability to fly or with super strength. Now we want a hero that's closer to the human form so we can relate to him.