The New Face of Digital Publishing in Africa

The publishing industry has faced many challenges, especially magazine production in East Africa. The high cost of printing on glossy paper has deterred some publishers from venturing into this field. But with changing technology, publishers are gaining more insight on how to distribute their material digitally.

With over 1500 readers, Afroelle magazine, a digital publication, has broken barriers to magazine publishing in Kenya. The use of online publishing tools like Issuu and Pressmart, has given publishers a relieved option of getting their products to their readers at an affordable rate.
Issuu helps publishers to load their publications on the platform, and introduces aspects like zoom or “go to page”, that makes online reading easier. Distribution of online magazines is also made easily as it can be embedded on a site or distributed via links.

HumanIPO spoke to the Chief Editor at Afroelle Magazine, Patricia Miswa to give an insight of the inevitable: the digital take over.

“I started the blog in May 2010 and by the end of its first year, I envisioned something bigger than just a blog. In January 2011 we rebranded to AfroElle Magazine; an online magazine empowering, encouraging and elevating women of African descent globally,” she said. The magazine uses Issuu to publish.

Daily Nation, one of the leading newspapers in Kenya, also added digital editions to their publications years ago. Nation now offers subscriptions on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, giving options to a paperless. Nation media uses Pressmart to get their digital editions out.

Unlike popular belief that online publication doesn’t make money, a magazine can run ads on their pages and get revenue. Afroelle charges anything from $20 – $100 while the mainstream media would charge over $2,000.

You do not need much when starting off. “When I began the magazine, it was not a business but a passion, so I didn’t need any capital, just a good laptop, an interactive forum and interesting stories. I do not have a publishing background so all the publishing skills; magazine layout designing use of different publishing tools and everything else related to digital publishing, I learnt on the job,” Patricia said.

Patricia gives all endeavoring and active publishers a parting shot. “The future of online publishing is here and now, publishers have to go where their audiences are consuming content and make sure they make their content available on formats that their consumers want. For example, now most magazines are now available on many electronic devices.”

For publishers, the writing is on the phone, laptops and iPads. To reach your readers, you have to inculcate the digital avenues.

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