mueni kithuka

While some still see online publishing as a threat to traditional print magazines, many in the industry are embracing the technology and using it to their advantage.

“The Internet is a quick way to generate interest in a magazine,” says Jamie Monastyrski, editor ofSpirit, a first nation’s arts and culture magazine.

A magazine’s online version can be an extension of its print publication. Through the Internet, people worldwide subscribe to magazines and gain access to their content.

“We have subscribers all over the U.S – including schools, universities, libraries – and also in Europe,” says Monastyrski. “Information is quick and accessible.”

According to Kathy Bergen, editorial director of, her online magazine is a complimentary publication to the print version.

“It’s not a straight duplication. It’s a way of introducing people to the magazine brand and bringing added value to the readers,” she says. “It gives more content in a different format than the magazine can, through the encyclopaedia of articles.”

Online magazine have other advantages over their print counterparts. While both versions have similar content, information is delivered differently.

“The online version can make things interactive and can take advantage of technology to convey information effectively,” Bergen points out. “You can use (the website), for example, to (learn how to) install an infant car seat.”

Despite these obvious advantages, not all magazines are jumping online. There are limiting factors.

POV (Point Of View) magazine, doesn’t have a website. As the official publication of the Documentary Organisation of Canada (DOC), it covers what its publisher calls “the art and business of indy docs and culture.” It lacks an online version because the magazine is unwilling to invest in the extra manpower needed to operate it.

“Economically, that wouldn’t work for us,” says publisher Sandy Crawley, who sees value in a print copy that an online publication can’t provide. He says for each magazine they print, four different people get a chance to read it. “If we had 2000 magazines out there, for example, we’d have 8000 readers.”

While Crawley says his staff may eventually design a teaser page on the main DOC website, they aren’t planning on developing an exclusive POV site. Besides, he says, traditional magazines offer a more tangible delight. “There is nothing better than someone picking the publication up at an office as they wait,” he says.

There may be a sense of competition between online and print publications, but Bergen at doesn’t see any immediate change in the magazine landscape. Online publications are new and useful, but print magazines, she says, face no real threat. “Both versions are companions to each other,” she says. “I don’t see magazines going away.”

Photo by Mueni Kithuka