Why Read Magazines? — The Value of Magazines as News Resources

To briefly introduce ourselves, Exact Editions is an online platform that works with numerous publishing partners to produce the digital versions of their magazines, so we like to think we know a thing or two about why they’re so important.

For over a decade now, we have advocated the strength and uniqueness of magazines compared to other sources of information. A large part of this has involved making significant headway into the academic library market by building archives of immense cultural value and offering them with site-wide access. Many of these archives speak for themselves, e.g. Gramophone and Sight & Sound, because of the depth and quality of the specialised content. The role of Exact Editions is to make this content as accessible as possible for users, by offering advanced search functionality, dedicated app access and other technical features, we facilitate audience growth and introduce new revenue streams for publishers.

We support the content.

So, why magazines? What makes them so special?

Quality Control

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Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

As you are reading this blog, I will assume that most of you are users of social media, whether that be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Reddit. Many of you will find the latest news via these sites, whether you follow specific individuals, or global brands such as the BBC, CNN or Al Jazeera. There are undoubtedly many benefits to the increased availability and freedom to information, however, there are also severe downsides. Take Twitter as an example, it is exceptionally easy to create an ‘echo chamber’ around yourself, by following only those whose views align with your own, many of us do this unconsciously without considering the consequences. Now let’s say that you do endeavour to seek out a variety of news sources — where do you start? The sheer volume of information being generated every second is enough to make heads spin. This oversaturation has multiple effects: increasing the use of buzzwords in articles to attract attention, reducing the attention span of readers and lowering the quality of journalism in favour of quantity.

Magazines address this problem perfectly.

Magazines crystallise the culture of the time, succeeding where social media fails. They are released on a regular timeline, affording them a nimbleness unmatched by book publishers and an orderliness absent in social media. This regularity ensures that magazines have a contemporary focus, offering prudent commentary rather than reactionary headlines. The editors act as guardians of information, they filter through the white noise to find the important voices and events. They then thread these voices and stories together to form cohesive, well-informed arguments that challenge readers to think rationally and deeply. Not only is this useful in the modern world where we fight against a tide of fake and fleeting news; it is also useful for preserving the defining moments and influential figures of each generation for future generations. Combine this with the growing accessibility of complete archives of magazines and you realise that magazines provide us with a reliable thread back through history. Think of them as Ariadne, offering you, Theseus, a spool of thread as you make your way through the labyrinth of the internet in search of dependable news.

Political Bias

Why read magazines to find news when we have newspapers? I hear you cry. Well, with political allegiances rife and visible, many newspapers are no longer able to legitimately claim a stance of neutrality. Magazines largely fall outside of that category as they are typically focused on specialist subject areas. This sharpening of the lens affords them the freedom to explore topics without having to worry about the overarching views of the brand they represent or the political view they advocate. This can work both ways; for example, Geographical benefits from viewing issues in terms of their global relevance, whereas Tate Etc. is focussed purely on the interpretation of art.

The point is that although magazines inevitably interact with and are influenced by politics; they are not shaped by politics.

*Of course, there are political magazines out there with agendas, and politics filters down into almost every aspect of life, however, magazines do operate in their own journalistic sphere which is less subject to outside influences and more content-oriented.

Again, I would also like to return to the problem of ‘echo chambers’. By and large, newspapers appeal to those who agree with the news they publish. Only the most dedicated follower of the news will actively purchase different newspapers to widen their perspective. Magazine readers, on the other hand, are often forced to chew on articles that don’t necessarily align with their political or cultural views. This encourages a broadening of the mind and is healthy for readers.

Style / Design

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Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash

This one is simple. We all love great visuals and design. Our brains are hardwired to enjoy neat edges, fancy fonts and sprawling high-quality double page spread images. Magazines offer visceral imagery that is missing in books and academic journals. We should not only consider this in aesthetic terms, but also in terms of academic value. Photos have the power to take the reader directly to the political situation in Libya, or to the depths of the Amazon Rainforest, they encourage engagement and make content easier to digest.

There is more to design than meets the eye.

In some fields, design isn’t a luxury, it is essential. Magazines that cover topics such as; modern art, architecture, ceramics and fashion are obvious supporters of the magazine format. But the need for style stretches far beyond these topics. Think poetry, think science, think business. They need specific formatting, diagrams, infographics. Magazines afford publishers the freedom to be creative and to devise new ways to inform their readers. With digital technology now able to replicate complete archives with pinpoint accuracy, magazines should be go-to resources for academics and rational readers.

MARC Records are go!

Just a quick update from us! … We are excited to announce that MARC Records are now available for institutional subscribers to download with the click of a button. This comes as part of our ongoing efforts to increase the integration of Exact Editions titles into library systems.

In the past, we received many queries requesting MARC Record data for the titles we support, so it’s great to be able to offer this option to our institutional subscribers. Our tech team have developed a streamlined D.I.Y. process for acquiring MARC Records for your specific subscriptions.

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Download your MARC Records with a click of a button

Downloading the relevant MARC Records for your magazine subscriptions is super simple. Log in to your Exact Editions administrative account, click preferences, then you should be taken to your account page where you’ll see an option to download your MARC Records. After that, the cataloguing world’s your oyster; adding new signposts to your system means more usage and increased discoverability for your subscriptions.

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Example records for Resurgence & Ecologist, Geographical and Opera

We like to see this as another hurdle jumped in the creation of the perfect magazine reading platform — as we continuously strive to make Exact Editions as user-friendly as possible.

Do you have any further suggestions for improving our site?

Please get in touch via institutions@exacteditions.com

A useful guide to MARC Records: https://www.loc.gov/marc/umb/

Let’s Call an End to the War between Print and Digital?

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Stockholm Public Library. Image via Pixabay.

There’s no doubt that the 21st-century library is gradually transforming from an information hub into a digital learning environment, and with this change, there has been a trend of architectural renovations to accommodate digital natives. To create room, libraries are moving massive print collections from their shelves into remote storage, compact shelving or automatic retrieval systems. Naturally, this has resulted in the usage statistics of print resources dropping, whilst digital usage continues to rise exponentially.

Now, as a digital magazine platform, you’d probably expect us at Exact Editions to be rubbing our hands together in glee, but that’s not the case. We are strong believers that print and digital resources exist in a symbiotic relationship. Of course, some readers prefer the print copy, and others prefer digital, and that is their prerogative. Perhaps we are being romantic, but a library without shelves of books just doesn’t seem right.

This leads us back to the original point of the article. Why are libraries investing huge sums of money on building renovations when digital collections require no physical space? Especially considering those digital resources can be accessed anywhere and anytime on any device by students and staff. That is one of the primary USPs of digital resources — the unlimited accessibility. So what’s the impetus for change? I think there is a sense of apprehension in the library industry, that the physical building is being replaced by a digital construct, and so they are trying to attract people with study spaces.

This departs from the emphasis on content which was so central to libraries in the past. Instead, the industry is leaning towards providing collaborative work areas, encouraging group study and creative sessions, rather than being a place for students to find information. Again, we are not against the development of library-provided technology (such as 3D printers, recording studios and group study rooms), but must the shelves be sacrificed? Why can’t these areas be located elsewhere in the university, or in a new building?

There is a dangerous trend of libraries thinking they must replace the shelves with digital-friendly workspaces, when in fact they risk ripping out the heart of the library. This does not need to happen, there is a choice. Digital collections are designed to supplement print resources, think of them as the left atrium, which exists in the cloud, beating in tandem to support the library system.

We’d like to see libraries turn their focus back to content acquisition, and providing their users with the widest range of information possible. There is certainly a demand for a productive learning environment which must be met, but libraries should not depart from their roots. Libraries are intended to connect people with content, not replace content with people.

How digital magazines are facilitating new strategies for learning in schools

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Image via Pixabay

We are now at a stage in our history where the vast majority of students are digital natives and find their information online. Technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate and education must evolve with it by developing new learning strategies and resources. Many magazines are now offering a digital version which can be purchased on an institutional basis, providing access to all the students and staff. But why go digital?

Seven reasons for schools to consider digital magazines

  1. Extensive Archives
    Many digital magazine providers will aim to offer subscribers access to archived back issues. These archives offer a window into the history of a subject, mapping out the development of cultural trends and understanding. Librarians can be confident that students are getting information from specialised, respected sources, rather than surfing the web where information is often not subjected to quality control. The digital format is also advantageous as school libraries are often more limited in capacity when compared to universities, as such, the ability to possess extensive archives without the requirement of physical space is very useful.
  2. Classroom Teaching Tools
    Not only are digital magazines great for independent study, they can also be used as excellent tools in the classroom. Available on a designated website, they can be projected onto interactive whiteboards, with pages and articles becoming focal points of classroom discussion. This practice prepares students for further education where they will be encouraged to engage with and comment on current research.
  3. Search Functions
    Many digital magazine archives come equipped with a search function so that specific areas of research can be found quickly and efficiently. This removes the difficulty some students face in finding relevant material for their studies.
  4. IP authentication
    IP authenticated access means that all staff and students in the school can use the resource without being required to log in with a username and password. The benefits of this system are obvious; it allows an unlimited amounts of users to access the resource simultaneously, as well as encouraging discussion and usage because of the availability.
  5. Remote Access
    Students can access the resources outside of the school, allowing teachers the flexibility of setting digital reading as homework, safe in the knowledge that the resource will be available to all of the students. This removes the risk of handing out large quantities of textbooks and ensures that students have equal access to information.
  6. Sharing / Group-Learning
    Students have the ability to share links and tweet references whether working on-site or from a remote location. This function will allow for groups to work together on projects regardless of distance, and encourage the sharing of knowledge.
  7. Usage Statistics
    Finally, increased power for librarians. Digital resources offer librarians the opportunity to view accurate usage statistics, affording them newfound control over decisions about which resources to keep, to remove, or to acquire more of. This insight can be invaluable for schools with a limited budget who want to ensure they are spending money on the correct resources.

Hopefully, this post has shown that the advantages of using digital resources in education are manifold. We must prepare students for life beyond school which increasingly involves being adept in technology. Professionals should be able to identify reliable sources of information and conduct efficient research, and by implementing these values in early education we would be offering students useful skills for the future.

Survey results determine that Magazine Apps are crucial to Librarians

A comprehensive study of worldwide mobile device acquisition revealed that over the past decade “the rate of iOS and Android device adoption has surpassed that of any consumer technology in history”*.

As a digital publishing company specialising in mobile apps, Exact Editions wanted to better understand the function of mobile technology in libraries today and their place in the future. A survey was conducted in January 2015 to a number of librarians worldwide. It quickly became evident that librarians globally are already recognising the sudden increase in students adopting mobile devices for academic purposes. Among our survey 68% of librarians revealed that students frequently used mobile devices to access e-resources in their libraries currently, while all of them answered that this will most definitely increase in the future.

The popularity of mobile technology in libraries is as a result of the increase in students using mobile devices as a source of information. By removing multiple methods of access, Exact Editions have ensured that connection to the apps is as simple as possible through immediate IP authentication. This eradicates the need for lengthy logins requiring a username and password. Most importantly, complete access is enabled when students are off campus through remote/EZ proxy access and Shibboleth for UK institutions.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 17.02.19Cross platform compatibility is a crucial requirement for libraries. Over half of the librarians surveyed estimated that the use of tablets and phones will become more prevalent than desktop resources, while all of them recognised the essential requirement in offering multi platform resources. Indeed with this, students have seamless access and the capacity to read an article on a variety of platforms from online on a desktop, or once the title has downloaded, offline on a mobile device; through apps the students have a 24/7 mobile library. Moreover, the magazines available via Exact Editions are accessible on both Android and iOS devices, again ensuring accessibility is at the forefront of our apps.

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“stacks”

During our research the concept of layout was another important concern for librarians. A high 91% of librarians agreed that the publication should maintain the original look of the printed copy. This not only ensures that the content retains an aesthetic quality, but also provides contextual background, a pivotal necessity for much research. Additionally with mobile apps, the ease at which users are able to scroll quickly through the publications pages ensures reading is far more organic. Discovery remains effortless through the provision of ‘stacks’ that provide a fluid channel in which to flick between issues, thus making reading all the more engaging, easy and enjoyable.

The rapid rise in the popularity of mobile technology along with the potent results of the survey, underlines the growing need for information to be available via app technology in libraries.

 

*http://www.flurry.com/bid/88867/iOS-and-Android-Adoption-Explodes-Internationally#.VMJlfIvnf8s