Do you love reading magazines? Many of us do and we often buy them and leave them lying idly around the house, hoping to catch a rare moment when we can read them.
But even now, while we’re in lockdown, that time can be hard to find. It’s as if we need something more digital, offering us a wider choice of what to read on the device we have with us right at that moment.
Well, a Swedish company called Readly has filled this gap by providing a digital platform for magazines which is already revolutionising the publishing industry.
In a similar vein to Netflix and Spotify, Readly offers its subscribers the choice of over 5000 magazines – national and international – for $14.99 per month (or $0.99 for the first month as a special offer). You can access the service on up to five different devices, regardless of operating systems.
And add to all of this – it’s an eco-friendly way to read.
We talk with the CEO of Readly – Maria Hedengren
Maria Hedengren is the CEO of Readly and we had the chance to talk to her about what Readly offers its users. When we ask her how she came to be working at Readly, she says it is basically a “love story.”
“I always loved working with tech but I also always loved magazines – I’m an avid magazine reader. I’ve always had huge piles of magazines on my coffee table and I really love to read about fashion, about health, about interior design and so on. So to be able to digitise the publishing industry is really a dream come true I would say,” she says.
After 20 years working in tech and enjoying every day of it, Hedengren came to Headly as CEO and was excited at the prospect of working with the leader in streaming magazines.
The ‘Netflix’ of the publishing industry
You could dub Readly the ‘Netflix’ of the publishing industry. Originally launched in Sweden in 2012, Readly is now actively working in 11 countries but it’s available for use for subscribers on every continent.
Interestingly, Hedengren tells us the magazine industry globally is “…really huge and not a lot of people realise that. It’s turning over approximately four times as much as the music industry. So, it’s a massive market but only about 10 per cent of the readership and circulation revenue comes through digital so far and the rest is in print.
“Which means that the publishing industry is not at all as far along in digital distribution as other industries like music for example. But the digital consumption of magazines is increasing every year, globally.”
Priced to match other streaming services
At $14.99 per month, the price is similar to other streaming services. When asked about the monthly subscription cost, Hedengren says: “This is what people expect to pay to consume media. If you look at other streaming services like Spotify and Netflix, this is what they’re charging and these companies have really changed the way people consume entertainment.”
Readly is family-friendly
Because a subscription to Readly allows access to the service on five different devices, it can be shared at a family level. Each user is able to set their own reading preferences so this makes it easier for parents to monitor what their children are reading.
Parents can also set parental control functions on their childrens’ devices so they’re limited in what they can view, keeping the app family-friendly.
So what is trending right now while we’re in lockdown?
With all this information, we asked Hedengren, what is trending at this time while we’re in lockdown? “We’re also seeing some trends with Do It Yourself titles increasing and home interior are more popular. Crosswords and puzzles and mindfulness and health. It’s quite natural that people will turn to reading those titles in a time when they’re in lockdown. We can see these trends clearly in our data,” she answers.
“We had an app download increase in March this year compared to last year of 62 per cent so people are really consuming more entertainment right now,” she adds. “Magazines are viewed by many as a very trusted form of content. There’s an info-dynamic going on out there at the moment and it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s fake so we represent really credible information. So it makes a lot of sense that people are consuming more magazines now.”
“Readers can search for publications by topic or article,” says Hedengren. As well as having access to the latest issues, readers are also able to access a huge library of back issues. Local titles include The Australian Women’s Weekly, ELLE Australia, Harper’s Bazaar, BELLE, Frankie and National Geographic Kids.
The most renowned international publications featured in the Readly library include Time, Fast Company, Vogue, Forbes, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and more. On top of major publications, Readly also opens discovery for smaller niche magazines, serving a unique corner of the market, and exposing readers to new publications.
Readly is growing fast
Earlier this year, Readly was ranked by the Financial Times as one of the top 500 fastest growing media companies in Europe, for the second year in a row.
As Hedengren says: “It’s a testament to the popularity of the Readly platform and the growing appetite for digital and convenient platforms with wide-ranging content that everyone can enjoy. We have readers on every continent and last year the digital magazines in our app were read over 83 million times by our subscribers and we look forward to continued growth in 2020.’’
Win-win situation for Readly and publishers
“We share our revenue with the publishers so this is how we pay them for contributing their content. This is based on the readership time on their titles on the platform,” says Hedengren.
She says it’s a win-win situation for Readly and the publishers because Readly provides a new revenue stream without any additional cost: “They’ve already produced the content… We do reach new readers – sometimes those who’ve gone from print to digital already. And we also get a lot of new international readers for magazines.
“We’ve had feedback that people are spending 15 per cent of their reading time on international titles which means that publishers also get access to eyeballs outside of their borders without the cost of distributing their magazine to other countries.
“We have to date gathered almost 25 billion data points and we’re adding millions every day. So we’re very data driven in our own product development and decision making for the type of product we promote. But it’s also of great value to the publisher to be able to really, really analyse in great detail, how people consume their titles, what they appreciate, what type of articles, what they spend a long time on… they can get a lot of information which helps them improve their content.”
“Obviously, we don’t have personal data – we anonomise the data. In 2019 the top categories on the platform were celebrity and entertainment and lifestyle and automotive,” she adds.
Audio is in the pipeline
Hedengren says Readly is looking at combining audio facilities within Readly’s platform and they’re experimenting with this at the moment but it’s not something that they have gone live with but it’s something they will consider launching in the future.