Preservation of magazine content and its accessibility


Reading-Room of the Boston Public Library, 1871 Wikimedia Commons

Clifford Lynch has just published a thoughtful and carefully researched article on Stewardship in the “Age of Algorithms”. Lynch’s central claim is that the web, algorithm-based institutions and our contemporary social media are in practical terms impossible to archive and preserve via traditional approaches. The traditional approaches that he has in mind are ‘format migration’ and ‘emulation’, but he appears to suggest that these are alternative approaches when they are essentially complementary. In fact one cannot have format migration without emulation, and any software emulation requires appropriate file format inputs. Lynch gives us a handy explanation of the format migration strategy:

The traditional models of digital archiving are twofold: format migration and emulation. Both, of course, assume a substrate, which is now relatively well understood and implemented with a fairly high degree of confidence, assuming reasonably consistent and continuous funding, of bit-level preservation by migration from one storage technology to the next as necessary [19]. The first approach, format migration, is best suited to “document-like” objects: PDFs, Microsoft Word files, audio, video, XML, JPEG, TIFF, etc. Here the idea is that, as standards, or de facto standards, gradually evolve and the ecosystem to deal with those types of files shift, curators will migrate the file formats, but this strategy is not necessarily as simple as it seems. New file formats are often not isomorphic to older ones. Formats may be proprietary and/or undocumented, and even objects claiming to conform to well-known standards may not implement these standards correctly or may add proprietary extensions. Lynch:Stewardship in the “Age of Algorithms”

While this may be a small correction to Lynch’s overall argument, it points to an important consequence. In digital culture, preservation — even of traditional cultural objects — is not a closed process. Once we aim to preserve analog or primarily physical cultural objects (for example photographs or books or magazines) in digital repositories and databases we are implicitly committed to an ongoing task of enabling and facilitating new forms of access. Precisely because our digital culture and our innovative technological mix will be inventing new ways of interacting with and enjoying these traditional cultural objects. Nor is it a settled or obvious question how these improvements and developments should be pursued.

This need for an ongoing commitment to preservation struck at Exact Editions very early in our development. We firmly believe that magazines, books and newspapers are all becoming more digital, but we also took it as an article of faith that back issues and archives have important and valuable content that should be available to digital subscribers, so our solutions whether through web browsers or via apps on smartphones and tablets have always ensured that archives and back issues are accessible to the subscribers of current issues. Just as the software of a digital magazine has to welcome and display each new issue, so its database should reach back and awaken back issues that in a print culture are usually filed inertly and inaccessibly on shelves or forgotten heaps.

The digital transition is nevertheless very real. Although the magazines that users read on their branded apps, are in one way strictly equivalent to the printed versions that they might have read in the Boston Library public reading room or Viennese cafes in the 19th century (with those bamboo frames that we still sometimes see) yet the reading experience and the arrangement of the digital editions is very different. It is only with a digital app or a web browser that one could expect to see all the decades or years of a magazine’s issues tidily piled up on a virtual desk. This stacking of issues emulates in a virtual form the tidy arrangement which would be quite hard to achieve with printed issues: and from most points of view it is a much handier solution than the collection of previous issues in carton sorters.


Slightly Foxed — incomplete archive on a physical desktop

Digital archiving even of historic and contemporary print formats is not easy; but it is both obviously possible and culturally necessary. The 12 complete magazine archives which are showcased in celebration of International Digital Preservation Day #IDPD17 are all growing and their preservation needs in 5 or 10 years time may be unanticipated by their current formats and their existing software. By then we hope to have found out what it is that mixed reality, block chains and machine learning are surely going to teach us. And the archives may in one way look the same, but they may behave a little differently.



Use our Search Technology to get the most out of your Subscription

Did you know that your Exact Editions subscription includes unlimited and free access to unique searching tools both online and in the Apps? Ideal for academic research, the technology allows you to quickly locate topics throughout a magazine’s archive. This can be particularly useful for Universities and Libraries, with each of the various functions specifically designed to help readers get the most out of the available content.

To get started, just sign in using your Exact Editions account details and select the title in which you wish to search. To narrow down a search when using one of the Apps, you can select a ‘stack’ to limit results to a particular decade or year. Also using the App, you can try out the search functions before buying a subscription.


To make search results more precise, the technology incorporates three of the primary Boolean search operators (explained below). Click here to learn about Boolean search and here for a  more comprehensive list of Boolean functions.

1. Search for a Single Word or Combination of Words

This is as straight forward as it sounds; simply enter words into the field in the top right hand corner of the screen and click ‘Search’. This provides you with a complete list of results within the selected issue, title or time frame. Entering more than one word will bring up all pages that include each of the entered words, for example all pages that include London AND Concerto AND Orchestra:


2. Search Using a Dash to Exclude Words

By placing a dash symbol directly before the second word of a search, your results will show all archive pages that display the first word but not the second. For example, entering Philharmonic -Orchestra will bring up all pages that include the word Philharmonic but not the word Orchestra:


3. Either or Both: Search Using a Vertical Bar

Entering vertical bars, or ‘pipe’ symbols, into your search activates the “Either or Both” search function. To do this, place the symbol directly before all entered words. For example, searching for |Philharmonic |Concerto will provide you with all pages that include EITHER Philharmonic or Concerto or BOTH of these words.


Using a Combination of Boolean Search Functions

If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, you can narrow down your search even further by combining the three functions explained above. For example, combine the Standard Search with the Dash & Vertical Bar functions:

London |Philharmonic |Concerto -Orchestra

Pages MUST include London, EITHER Philharmonic or Concerto or BOTH, EXCLUDES Orchestra


Search Using Quotation Marks

Just like searching on Google, you can also use the technology to track down a specific term or phrase mentioned anywhere in the archive by placing the words in the correct order between quotation marks. This function is perfect for finding topic-specific terms instantly:


Use the App to Save your Searches as Bookmarks

Finally, once you have completed your search and found what you are looking for, you can save the results as bookmarks for future reference. To save individual pages, simply click on the Actions button in the top left hand corner of the screen, followed by the Bookmarks Icon. This will bring up a new window entitled ‘Add Bookmark’, giving you the possibility to assign it a name and save it. Once this is done, your new Bookmark will appear under the Bookmarks tab for speedy access:


To save all search results as Bookmarks, select the option “Bookmark All” which appears at the top of the Search Results window. This will automatically create a new folder within the Bookmarks tab containing your search results:


The “Bookmark All” function is particularly useful when, as shown above, a very large number of results is returned. By using this function, you can easily check through and refer back to previous research without having to repeat the process.

Why not take a look at the extensive archives offered by some of our publishing partners? Click on the banners below to visit our Institutional Shop:

1121 back issues:


411 back issues:


389 back issues: 


To learn more about getting the most out of an archive or database when carrying out research, we suggest consulting this informative piece on Searching Article Databases

If you have any questions about searching in an archive, or if you have any feedback about the functions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by sending an email to

Happy searching!

March 2015

AnOther Man, AnOther Archive

It’s a double whammy of good news for fans of AnOther Magazine and AnOther Man, today.

AnOther Magazine unleashes its 12-year digital archive on Apple’s Newsstand, while AnOther Man unveils its app for iOS and Android for the very first time.

Another Man was launched in 2005, to cater to an expanding menswear market and an appetite for intelligent male-oriented cultural commentary. Essays and interviews with figures like JG Ballard and Tom Waits, alongside pioneering fashion make it the first magazine for men to combine intellectual and sartorial creativity so seamlessly.

Today marks the release of AnOther Man’s app in the iOS App Store. Subscribers will be able to access all 15 issues at the touch of a button.

The latest issue features Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner. Inside, the rock icon discusses keeping his Yorkshire edge in Tinseltown, how he writes a hit song and why he prefers a tough crowd.

AnOther Man Latest iPad

Meanwhile, AnOther Magazine introduces its complete digital archive.

Launched in 2001, AnOther Magazine has been a beacon of stylistic brilliance for over a decade. Its blend of avant-garde fashion photography and trailblazing editorial quickly identified it as a force to be reckoned with. Nicole Kidman, Jodie Foster, Natalie Portman and Tilda Swinton have all graced its iconic covers.

All 26 issues of AnOther Magazine are now available for syncing, sharing and searching on the iPad, iPhone or on Android.

Say, for example, you wanted to trace the many manifestations of Kate Moss, over the years. A simple search will reveal every model mention throughout the magazine’s history, from demure and sultry in 2004 to fierce and feisty in 2011.

Kate Moss Pretty in Pink & Purple

Kate Moss Blue

Searching Magazine Archives

Exact Editions will be making announcements in the next 10 days on exciting improvements in the way that magazine archives are searched and browsed.

Before we get into the details of this new functionality, it may be useful to make some general points about searching digital magazine archives and the way ‘search’ is handled by the Exact Editions service. We will pitch examples from the Gramophone archive, but similar techniques apply to all the magazines using the  platform. Gramophone  is by some way the biggest magazine archive available in iTunes Newsstand, it provides access to 1097 issues published since 1923, and every single issue can be read by subscribers to the digital magazine service. For a magazine with as much deep content as Gramophone, search is an essential tool (if it were practical to sync every back issue, the archive would come in at over 50Gb, basically exhausting all the space on a high-end iPad). With so much content search is crucial. Clever searching helps to unpack the riches of this content trove. Here are some basic tips for iPad users.

The search syntax will be familiar to users of Google search:

  1. Searching for  Mozart Requiem will find pages on which those two words appear
  2. Searching for “Mozart Requiem”  or  Mozart-Requiem will restrict the search to hits where there is an exact match i.e. the words occur next to each other
  3. Searching for “Mozart Requiem” and “Colin Davis” finds pages on which both exact phrases occur 
  4. Searching for Mozart -Requiem finds pages where Mozart occurs but no Requiem
  5. Searching for strings can help e.g.: B155 or VR37604


Searching for Slavonic Dances by Catalogue number

Users who want to narrow a search will find that they can do so by careful selection of key terms and then further focus by using search by century, by decade, by year, and of course by issue. The period can be selected from the drop down panel, that comes from the ‘Issues’ button at the top left of the iPad screen. The search box helpfully displays the ‘period’ that will be searched in faint grey lettering.

Searching archives of generally reliable magazines is not at all like searching the web. Often with a Google search, the user is just interested in the top three hits, very rarely do users of Google look at the second page of hits. We cannot pretend that every hit in a magazine search is going to be golden, but there is much less dross in comparison to the typical web search. In the next few days Exact Editions will be rolling out new apps that will now support 200 hits from a search term. Furthermore any search result can be ‘Bookmarked’ which will result in all 200 pages in the results list being synced to the device; a strong feature for anyone with a serious research interest in classical music. Furthermore, ‘bookmarked’ searches remain available on the device for subsequent use.

bookmarked searches

A list of Bookmarked Searches in the Gramophone archive (pages now synced to the iPad)

A little Christmas gift from Exact Editions & our Publishing Partners

To get into the festive spirit we have teamed up with our Publishing Partners to bring a Christmassy treat to all of our Facebook fans.

Every day during the Advent season, an article or two is being made available to view for free on the Exact Editions website and on the Newsstand App.

Exact Editions Advent Calendar

So far we’ve had articles from many titles including Total Politics, The Oldie, Geographical and Gramophone. We’ve also given away discount codes for magazines such as The LadyArt MonthlyThe Wire and Modern Poetry in Translation.

The boxes are available to view until the 24th December 2012, with articles still to come from the latest issues of SainsburysGrand Designs and Literary Review.


To take advantage of this festive treat simply head over to the Advent Calendar here –