Mag Skips Print, Goes From Web Straight To Digital

In what could be interpreted as either a savvy embrace of technology by the magazine industry or a sign of its eventual demise, a new magazine launch will skip that whole "paper" thing.

Web publisher Robert Angelone has launched Epicurus magazine as an extension of his popular recipe and gastronomy-focused Web site, Yet Angelone has chosen to eschew producing an actual print product in favor of launching the title exclusively as a digital publication.

The debut issue of Epicurus will be offered to subscribers via digital magazine software company Zinio, which distributes online versions of magazines like Business Week and PC Magazine.

According to Angelone, Epicurus will be the first consumer magazine launched solely using this digital format.

To be clear, Epicurus is not an "online magazine" in the typical sense (like say Instead, it visually resembles a magazine, including a cover shot and full-page ads.



Subscribers to digital magazines typically receive an e-mail notification that a new issue is available to download. The readers then download a digital version to be read on their personal computers using Zinio's software, which allows them to 'flip' through pages like any other title and even save issues without taking up shelf space.

"Everything is the same, except you don't send it to a printer," said Angelone.

Angelone originally wanted to launch Epicurus as a print extension of the Web site, which has been around since 1996, but found financing was an obstacle.

"The cost of publishing in print is so high, when this venture started, it was going to cost millions," he said. "Without getting major capital, I couldn't see it happening."

Now, having elected to go digital, Anglone says that instead of spending a $1.50 per issue to produce and distribute a magazine, he is spending roughly 25 cents per copy.

Thus far, Epicurus is moving slowly. Angelone says that on the first day that he added a promotional link to the Web site, six subscribers signed up. "It's not a lot, but we didn't do anything [to promote it]," he said. In early October, the company sent out 70,000 newsletters soliciting subscribers, which now number in the hundreds.

Angelone believes that the digital format will not represent a barrier for Epicurus' Web savvy recipe hawks, and that the Web site serves as a fertile launching pad.

"We do have a fan base," he said of Epicurus' 1.8 million unique users per month. "If I get 10 percent of that base to subscribe, that is a pretty good magazine."

The digital magazine should also answer the advertising community's desires for strong audience measurement and accountability, said Angelone. "There is no way to fudge it," he said. "It's all digital."

Besides, the multimedia nature of the online medium, which allows for motion, sound, and trackability, while presented in a magazine layout, should makes Epicurus'advertising that much more effective, he noted.

Of course, Angelone still hopes to launch a print version of Epicurus some day, and believes having already developed a digital version makes the title that much more attractive. "Going to a publishing house will be a lot easier," he said.

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