During the year 2006, Pressmart was the leader in digital publishing domain and a very well known brand for their ePaper product. The company had many clients across the globe for their innovative ePaper (print replica of newspaper). As the company's key focus was on digital publishing, and we kept thinking about how we can improve the online reading experience no matter what device user uses.
eMagazine was one of those ideas which have flowed from our brainstorming meetings. As we were already successful about digitalizing newspapers, we felt entering into the magazine publishing is more relevant to leverage the existing domain expertise and build something for it.
We worked on a quick prototype by customizing our existing ePaper code to match to the magazine standards. Nearly, after six months of experiment, we saw that the user engagement was very poor for digital magazines when compared to the response we got for the ePaper product when we initially launched.
When we asked people, 90% said that they really like the paper feeling and the richness of the magazine pages. They like reading print edition rather than a digital edition. Few expressed that they like the smell of paper. They strongly argued that no digital format can give that sensorial experience which a paper magazine can give them.
Though we knew digital reading is no substitute for print, there are many added advantageous in terms of convenience and new possibilities with the digital format. We kept thinking about new possibilities to improve the digital reading experience.
The flash-based rich internet applications were trending those days and I had a little experience with Action Script 2.0 programming (a dialect of ECMAScript) and that helped us to think towards a flash based solution. Many enthusiastic flash developers were experimenting with the popular flip effect.
We decided to move to flash-based RIA and try out applying the flip effect, the closest thing to reality, and it was a huge success, together with the sound effect.
After the relaunch of the application with the new flip effect, we started hearing the tremendous response from the same set of people we talked before. This time they said, this is kind of a new experience.
When we digitized the print magazine, we saw endless possibilities. We added many new features to improve the digital reading experience for readers. We developed many interactive and rich media features to make online advertising more effective which was impressed advertisers a lot.
1) We made links on the pages such as advertisers website links, email id's clickable. We tracked all these actions for monetization purpose. That helped publishers to sell more.
2) We opened up new opportunities to the advertisers to sell their products directly from the digital magazine by adding shopping cart buttons on the ad pages.
3) The search feature helped readers to discover the content within the current issue and as well as from past issues.
4) We improved the reading experience by adding videos, audios, and animations to compliment the content. It was the 'Aha' movement for us when we heard so much positive talk about our digital magazines.
5) And the other features like navigate through thumbnails, text to speech, bookmark, print, download, etc., added more value to the product.