SPH launches subscription cards, an ideal magazine gift

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SPH Magazines says it is "bridging the physical-digital divide" with pocket-sized subscription cards which allow readers to access magazines on their own devices.

Hafizah Hazahal, who works in the Singapore publisher's insights and intelligence unit, says the cards are a successor to the glossy books which filled stands in bookstores before the internet hit. Depending "almost entirely on the web for content" means magazine stands have lost their of crowds, and many have gone altogether.

"The pocket-sized subscription cards allow readers to access their favourite magazines where and when they want them," she says.

While most legacy magazine publishers had launched brand websites, the SPH approach addresses competition in the digital space from content providers which are not confined by geography "and most importantly, content expertise".

"Given this, it is not surprising to hear that Edelman's latest Trust Barometer found the level of trust in online platforms - defined as social networking sites, microblogging sites, and online forums - has further declined globally," she says.

"At the same time, and perhaps not surprisingly, the same study found trust in journalism - defined as mainstream media such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, online news sites, and widely followed blogs - registered an increase, and journalism is now more trusted than platforms in 21 out of 28 surveyed countries."

Bridging the physical-digital divide is one way in which magazines can take advantage if this: "Offer the convenience of having magazine content right on people's devices, without diluting its value."

Magazine apps are one way publishers have done this but these are having a difficult time getting discovered in the App Store. "Even when they are discovered, chances of them being used are low, because they compete with more popular apps such as Facebook," she says in an INMA post.

The SPH Magazines solution sees pocket-sized subscription cards mounted on magazine stands in bookstores in a return to their once-glorious position in the market but reinvented to fit into readers' new lifestyles.

"With these cards, readers will be able to access their favourite magazines anytime and anywhere on their devices. And, unlike print issues that have short lifespans on the shelves, readers will get the latest issue of the magazine at the point of card activation, regardless of when the card was purchased, making them a great present. Seasonal cards for special occasions such as Mother's Day and Christmas are another gift option.

SPH Magazines has made the cards available at all Times outlets in Singapore for all its titles, and is in talks to distribute them at other retailers in Singapore and neighbouring countries.

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