Association Publishing Market Puts Digital in Focus: Social, Mobile and Digital Technologies Are among the Top Priorities for Member-Driven Magazines, and Association Editors Are Rising to the Challenge

By Raphael, T. J. | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Association Publishing Market Puts Digital in Focus: Social, Mobile and Digital Technologies Are among the Top Priorities for Member-Driven Magazines, and Association Editors Are Rising to the Challenge


Raphael, T. J., Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


In the United States and elsewhere, there is an association for everything--from toilets to tech organizations, these groups stand to protect and promote the goals of their own industry sectors in a variety of ways, and many do so with magazines.

But association magazines, while maintaining their importance as member benefits, are quickly expanding their missions across platforms, and their parent organizations are making cross-platform information services a high priority.

"All of our members get a copy of our magazine and we consider it one of our key benefits," says Cindy Stevens, senior director of publications for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

For 15 years, the association produced a publication called CE Vision, which it redesigned at the end of 2012 and reintroduced as It Is Innovation, also known as 13, at the January 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES)--the association's tradeshow that attracts more than 150,000 attendees.

"It focuses on all aspects of innovation in the consumer technology market--tech, policy and business," she says. "We felt like we needed a new look and it's been very well received. Print is very important, but it's just one part of our overall publishing strategy."

The new magazine was launched along with a companion mobile app and website, and the brand has an average bimonthly circulation of more than 64,000 print and digital subscribers--which includes an average print circulation of more than 19,000 and an average digital circulation of more than 44,500, according to its June 2012 BPA Circulation Statement.

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The magazine has an international circulation and benefits from a premium and exclusive distribution at International CES. A select portion of the magazine's circulation receives the print copy of 13, but it is mailed to all CEA members. The association uses the publication as a leave-behind when CEA staffers go to Capital Hill or meet with prospective members and partners.

In addition to industry events, the publication is also distributed at Regan National, LaGaurdia and Logan Airports. The publication is available digitally online or through iTunes and Google Play, and the title's Web and magazine content are pushed out to CEA social platforms.

"I think reading the physical copy of the magazine is an experience that many readers value," says Stevens. "I think there will always be a place for print, but digital has allowed us to grow our subscribers, especially internationally. Years ago we were at 25,000 and now our subscribers are a growing base. With digital technology, we can save on postage, mailing, printing and paper--all of the costs associated with the print version. Now with this new publishing model we can send them an e-alert when our flipbook is published and they can access the digital magazine-we wouldn't be able to afford to do that before."

FOSTERING A COMMUNITY BY LEVERAGING MEMBERSHIP

Even one of the oldest and largest associations rooted in print, the American Library Association, is getting more bullish on digital. Founded in 1876, the organization is evolving its publishing business model to meet the changing marketplace.

"We're really the connection for members of the association six times a year," says Laurie Borman, editor and publisher of American Libraries magazine, the association's member title. "I look at a magazine as a tangible thing and even though the association is offering advocacy, free library programs, information, tools, accreditation and a lot of other benefits to the membership, this is the one piece they can touch and keep in touch with."

The publication itself is 104-years-old and is moving quickly into the future. In addition to publishing six issues a year, and at least four digital supplements and flipbook digital magazines, the brand has a weekly e-newsletter, its website, a family of blogs, a job board, webinars and a video archive platform that contains coverage of events and conferences, interviews, profiles and more. …

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