Yesterday The Congleton Chronicle became the first local newspaper in the Exact Editions store. An annual subscription to the digital edition of this weekly paper is available for £25. There is a free trial issue available here.

The almost immediate launch of the newspaper in the Exact Editions platform was also a record. The publisher/owner of the Chronicle decided to do his digital edition yesterday and uploaded the necessary issues forthwith, discussed the deal, decided the price and the schedule, signed the contract (put it in the post — we trust him), liaised with our team, who promptly processed the files at our end: by 4.00pm everything was shipshape. Files databased, blurb drafted and logo in situ. The net result was that the ‘paper’ was up and in the store less than 6 hours after the decision to proceed had been taken. One wishes that some of the big publishers we talk to could move at similar speed. They need to get moving.

The digital edition gives the Congleton Chronicle a number of things that much larger publications also need:

  • A digital edition which can be bought by any loyal subscriber. So no need to put a paywall around the web site, which will continue to carry fast moving stories. But there is a lot that is not freely available from the web site; if you want the full monty, then the Congleton loyalist will buy a digital sub
  • The digital edition is good for Congleton loyalists because it reaches them on the very morning that the paper is first published in Cheshire. And the statistics from the Chronicle’s web site tells us that there are plenty of curious visitors in far off places who can now subscribe instantly without fuss, and with no more bother than a PayPal transaction.
  • The readers also have the benefit of all the advertisements that appear in the paper. The ads are there in full glory. With clickable telephone numbers, url’s and email addresses. There are hundreds of such navigable and actionable links in each issue of the Chronicle. The ads in a local paper are among the most useful resources of the paper for readers. So leaving them out is a non-sense (the Exact Editions content management solution transforms local numbers into the international format, so the American reader with Skype or mobile phone, can call the estate agent with a click from the page).
  • The additional interactivity in the paper, in particular in the ads, is also excellent news for the advertisers. The ads will get additional and direct response from readers who click on links. The publisher will have the statistics to prove it.
  • The digital edition is completely accessible on the iPhone and from other mobile phones with standard, fully capable web browsers. There is no need for the Chronicle to invest in the considerable expense and overhead of producing and maintaining an alternative ‘mobile’ version of their content platform. All of the newspaper content is accessible week, by week from the digital edition, which can be easily read on iPhones and other mobile devices.
  • The Exact Editions platform also takes care of the support, distribution and e-commerce aspects of the digital edition and this is a proven and reliable system. So it really is possible for a publisher to be up and running with a digital solution a few days after the decision is taken (allow 5 working days, because the Chronicle may be exceptionally nimble).

The Congleton Chronicle’s publisher also figured out a way in which he could recoup the really modest costs of this service from the get-go. Smart move.