The very long tail – how magazines could make their archives sing

From Paid Content:

A magazine is making its 1,000-issue, 90-year archive available to digital subscribers. The model could light the way for expert content publishers, who may be sitting on an archive gold mine – if they can start producing future-proof digital content today.

If readers won’t pay for this month’s latest tablet magazine, will they put their hand in their pocket for a title’s entire back-issue archive?

To commemorate its ninetieth birthday next year, classical music monthly Gramophone has digitised all 1,000 editions of its legacy, comprising 110,000 pages, for its app and web subscribers.

More than just a technological feat, the resurrection and archival capabilities of digital copying and storage that have brought back value for music and video owners may also offer new long tail prospects for magazines.

The consumer value benefits are intriguing. Gramophone only launched on iPad a year ago – now 1,000 copies are available in perpetuity to subscribers for the same £3.99-a-month (£39.99-a-year) price as the mere dozen-or-so it has published digitally since launch.

Other titles have shown an interest in giving their archive a second life. Vogue magazine has made available its 119-year, 400,ooo-page history. Current New Yorker subscribers can also read all issues dating back to 1925.

But, just because modern-media storage allows it, should publishers call back decades-old content for hoped-for reward? That depends on whether their archive can be mined for what a specific audience might regard as gold today…

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