The Disadvantages of E-Zines

by Bill Reynolds

Electronic magazines -- commonly referred to as e-zines – are digital publications delivered through websites or email. E-zines can be small-circulation newsletters promoting products and services or large circulation electronic journals. Because e-zines heavily depend on technology and search engine traffic to reach their target audience, they are sometimes at a disadvantage when compared to print publications.

Technology Concerns

Unlike print magazines and newsletters, e-zines are published and distributed entirely over the Internet. While this practice can be convenient for many readers, it makes the assumption that the intended audience has access to the Internet in the first place. Where most Americans have the opportunity to acquire print publications through the mail or through a retailer, the same can’t be said of electronic-based magazines. According to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 15 percent of Americans do not use the Internet or email. Any potential readers falling into this category have no access to e-zines and email newsletters and cannot access electronic magazines.

Less Credibility

Many popular print magazines have free Internet counterparts. Their electronic versions typically enjoy the credibility that comes with the established brand. Because e-zines exist exclusively on the Internet, enjoying no beneficial association with a widely distributed print magazine or newspaper, they have to build audience trust from scratch, which can be a laborious process.

Demand for Content

Many e-zines depend on search-engine traffic to reach their audience, at least initially. Though search engine optimization techniques sometimes change as new search engine protocols are established, e-zines generally rely on a steady stream of high quality, useful content to win search-engine favor. Erratic, unpredictable content creation can cause an e-zine to be buried under competition that is more ambitious. Where popular print magazines often benefit from large staffs of writers and editors, the limited budgets of many e-zines mean they can't maintain such a staff and must rely on freelancers for content. The constant demand for quality content can be a daunting obstacle to overcome for e-zine publishers.

Customer Preference

Unlike content read on a computer screen, print magazines and newsletters have no associations with physical discomfort. According to the American Optometric Association, reading on a computer screen can cause blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain. This can place e-zines at a disadvantage when compared to print publications; readers already suffering from video-related physical discomfort might be less inclined to give a newly delivered e-zine their undivided attention. This situation is changing as manufacturers improve the reading experience on tablets and e-readers that have entered this market in the past few years.

About the Author

Bill Reynolds holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from Rowan University. He has written hundreds of articles for print and online media, drawing inspiration from a wide range of professional experiences. As part of the UCLA Extension Writer's Program, he has been nominated for the James Kirkwood Prize for Creative Writing.

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