With South Africa becoming increasingly connected, the question is often asked whether there is still room for printed journals. A recent web-based readers’ survey conducted by EE Publishers showed that there is a healthy balance between those who prefer a printed journal and readers who prefer journals in a digital format. The quick answer to the question whether there is still room for printed journals is yes, very much so. On a scale of 1 – 5, with 5 indicating liking a lot and 1 disliking or not receiving the journal, 38% of the respondents preferred the printed versions closely followed by the e-mail newsletter (35,2%) with multimedia webs third scoring only 17,2%. The printed version is also read by more than one person, effectively exposing the editorial and advertising material to more people. Out of 503 respondents, 29% said they are the only person reading it, 15,7% said they share it with a colleague and 14,3% said they share their copy with two or more people in their organisation.
Digital versions of EE publications (EngineerIT, PositionIT, Vector and Energize) such as flip-page e-zines, Twitter, Facebook and multi-media websites were less popular than email newsletters. The multimedia websites of the four journals were rated the third most popular amongst respondents. LinkedIn is the most popular channel followed by Twitter and Facebook.The flip-page e-zines are getting more traction as readers discover the various advanced features such as clicking through to URLs – allowing readers to visit company websites and other hot-linked URLs. It is a pity that some enterprises still restrict employees by limiting web browsing. However, I expect that as bandwidth becomes more available and at a lower cost, companies will realise the value they can add to their business by giving their engineers and technologists more access to flip page e-zines – pages that are identical to the printed copy, including advertisements.Some more statistics from the survey include:
l 90% of EE Publishers’ readers are aged 31 years or older; 82% are male; 18% are female.l 82% of readers are resident in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal or Western Cape; 4% of readers are resident outside South Africa.l 78% of readers have a technician diploma or university degree; 34% of readers have a postgraduate or second university degree; 62% of readers have some form of statutory professional registration.l 76% of readers are in the private sector; 24% of readers are in the public sector.l 50% of readers are in senior executive and decision making positions (departmental/divisional managers or higher).One of the advantages of reading magazines digitally is that they are always available when one has a few spare minutes; for example while waiting for an appointment or travelling on a plane or train. From the survey it is clear that readers are not ready to ditch printed media in favour of electronic media but at this stage see electronic media as complementary.
While not covered in the survey, many people I speak with as features editor of EngineerIT say that digital media, particularly the newsletter format, is ideal for a quick read and getting a grasp of what is happening in the industry; but many will still turn to the printed version to read a technical article in more depth.From an advertising point of view the printed media provides excellent, long shelf-life coverage, and in the case of EE Publishers, free coverage also in the flip page e-zines that are part of the deal.Electronic media advertising is also available on the EE Publishers website and emailed newsletters, all providing effective, shorter-term advertising at excellent prices.