Popular SA magazines go digital via kalahari.net

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One of the country’s largest online retailers kalahari.net has expanded its digital content offering by selling electronic versions of some popular magazine titles online, mainly from the Media24 stable. These include You, Huisgenoot, Go!, Ideas and other titles. They are now available for purchase in digital format, with others to be added on an ongoing basis.

Gerjo Hoffman, Senior Category Manager of eContent at kalahari.net says the addition of eMagazines to kalahari.net’s offering forms part of a drive to expand its digital offering beyond eBooks.

“We are making the adoption of this new format as easy as possible. This can be evidenced in three ways. First, from a software perspective, we launched a free eBook reader software application that makes it easy for you to enjoy eBooks on your PC or Mac. Second, from a hardware perspective, we’ve started marketing the Elonex range of eReaders. The entry level device is the first eReader available in South Africa for under R1,000. Third, we’ve launched a Digital Downloads channel on kalahari.net making it easy for you to find and download relevant content.”

Hoffman moves on to explain that from a publisher’s perspective, eMagazines will bridge the gap between paper and the Internet.

“The way in which we consume media such as magazines is starting to evolve as technology enables more connected experiences. kalahari.net is proud to be at the forefront of this change in South Africa. In the future, opportunities exist for publishers to provide more than just their print content by enriching the magazine reader’s experience through Rich Media with links to the Internet, embedded clips and interactive features.”

The 2010 Annual Digital Magazine Readership Survey of 170,000 US-based readers by Qmags released in June of this year confirm this. The report indicates a continuing shift towards digital content and preferences. According to the survey, the use of print media declined across the board, while the use of digital magazines, websites, and other e-products soared. The reasons according to Qmags: e-products were timelier, easier to save, environmentally friendly, and more searchable.

Arthur Goldstuck, Founder and Managing Director of World Wide Worx, a specialist business technology research house, says that South Africa has some catching-up to do but catch up it will. “Paid-for digital content is still one of the sleeper markets in South Africa, but once the right devices come along at the right prices, and the content itself is both what the market wants and at the price the market is willing to pay, it will see steep growth.”

“Just like video was meant to kill the radio star back in the seventies, print media has always considered the Internet to be the enemy. It’s not. Instead, it’s enabled the print world to offer its readers another channel, another way in which they can consume and enjoy content. This is going to do to the magazine industry what digital photography did to the photographic industry – open up a whole new channel to market,” continues Hoffman.

kalahari.net has partnered with Zinio.com, the world’s largest virtual newsstand, to deliver this virtual scoop, and plans to expand the list to include popular international titles in the near future.

Users will not need to invest in additional technology to sign up to receive their favourite magazine titles either – all they need is their regular PC, netbook or Mac. iPad users can also download the Zinio application free of charge and order their choice reads on kalahari.net.

“South Africans overseas will now be able to get their monthly dose of much loved local content through kalahari.net, and be able to keep up to date with life back home in South Africa,” says Hoffman.

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