When eReaders were first released, all but the biggest bibliophiles were hesitant to shell out the cash for something they didn’t think would get much use. Now that smartphones and tablets are all but ubiquitous, however, digital media has never been more accessible.
What once called for an entire separate device now fits neatly in your pocket, thanks to the proliferation of eReader apps for smartphones and tablets – most of which are completely free.
When you think of eReaders, your mind tends to go straight to books. If you’re not a big reader that default app that came with your phone may spend a lot of time gathering dust.
However, as the big twenty-first century shift between print media and digital content continues, there’s another use that may draw casual readers back to their eReader app: online magazines.
It’s been an interesting few decades for the printed word. By the time 2013’s State of the Media (the Pew Research center’s annual report on the state of journalism in the United States) was published, the future looked pretty bleak for the classic monthly glossies and news magazines: falling subscriptions, falling newsstand sales, print ads selling for less and less…but 2013 also saw a huge spike in the popularity of smartphones, offering a new option for faltering magazines.
Newsweek lead the charge: after 80 years as a print publication, it ceased production altogether and moved to a 100 percent digital format. Less than two years later, a huge number of magazines have followed it: Nook’sDigital Newsstand alone offers over a thousand options, from old standbys like Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated, and GQ to smaller publications like Doctor Who Magazine or Selvedge, a fabric magazine.
Newsweek’s last print issue
Why Try an E-zine Instead of Print?
While the pros and cons of going digital will no doubt be debated for years to come, the switch has been a life saver for plenty of magazines, and plenty of casual readers. Without the cost of a paper-and-ink publication, e-zines run much cheaper than their printed cousins, and may even be completely free if you don’t mind a few ads.
EReaders like the Nook reading app on Androids and iPhones are great for putting a huge variety of titles all in one place and letting you search them. The horse lover in your house may have a hard time finding magazines for her at the local book store, but a search on her phone gives her ten different options in just a few seconds.
E-zine publishers also pride themselves on being interactive: Jaguar recently ran a feature that lets the reader inside a virtual Land Rover cab to explore the features of the new car. High-definition imagery, videos, and games like the virtual Land Rover make e-zines pretty unique to printed magazines.
Where Do I Find Them?
As long as your smartphone has access to Wi-Fi or 4G, eReading apps will link you straight back to their digital bookstore, and from there it’s one touch of the screen to a newsstand or magazine section. App stores make e-zines very easy to browse: single issues are often free, or as little as 99 cents.
Most weekly or monthly magazines also have a free trial before you subscribe, and longer subscriptions are easily cancelled. If you’re a loyal longtime subscriber to a print magazine like Vogue, an eReader subscription means the full issue will download itself straight to your pocket (often along with some exclusive online-only content), waiting to be read whenever you get around to it.
If you’re looking for something new, digital newsstands are great for browsing around until you find something to strike your fancy, whether you just read a few articles or take out a year-long subscription on the spot.
Changing Faces – New Age Digital Newstands on your Smartphones
A Few Final Words
Whether you’re a longtime reader or just interested in browsing through some digital reading, there’s a huge variety of free eReaders available on Google Play and the App Store that are quick to download and easy to browse.
You should also check the website of your favorite print subscriptions and explore their digital options: an eReader subscription may net you more online-only content and get rid of those annoying ads. If you’ve never opened that eReader buried in your smartphone’s defaults, fire it up and check out its magazine options!