‘Digital magazines’ get an official new name – ‘electronic editions’

In a Folio: report about actions of a recent board meeting of the media auditing organization, BPA Worldwide*, Bill Mickey notes BPA has started referring to “digital magazines” as “electronic editions.”


“The term ‘digital’ has been ditched, according to the new rules. Instead, ‘electronic’ will now be used when referring to electronic editions of magazines. ‘There are a number of definitions for the word ‘digital’ in a media owner’s portfolio, including: digital magazines, websites and email newsletter products,’ says Hansen. ‘To eliminate this confusion, the BPA Board voted to change ‘digital’ to ‘electronic edition’ throughout the rule book when referring to electronic version of print publications and magazines.'”

Personal observation: Thank you. I’ve never liked the term “digital magazine.” In the past, I’ve used the term “digitial version of a magazine” in an attempt to clarify my belief that once a magazine is converted into an electronic file, it becomes a new form of media that should be treated — and described — as such.

However, I recognize that the names we hang on new media often use metaphors related to previous media. “Moving pictures” was the first term applied to film (and the folks who hand out Oscars still use the term “motion picture”). And radio was first called “wireless telegraphy.” When the market catches up with the concept, a better term comes along.

I’m going to follow the BPA’s lead and start using the term “electronic edition” whenever referring to the versions of magazines and books that have the potential of carrying “moving pictures” and that must be viewed on a computer or other electronic device.

*Disclosure: Hammock Inc. is a “member publisher” of BPA.

  • “digital editions” still begs the question….of what?

    I guess it does probably speak to the notion that the “digital edition” (or digital version) transcends our assumptions about magazine-ness by providing more multi-media content.

  • and the “paper” versions will be called “old school edition” or “grandpa’s magazine”

  • @Jon – Or, perhaps: Magazine Classic, Coffee Table Edition or, merely, Original Edition. I do like you “Old School,” however. But shouldn’t it be spelled Old Skool?

  • I don’t care what you call digital magazine so long that the electronic version has the necessary components to still be a magazine. It must be paginated, edited, and designed. Other “good” attributes would be date stamped, permanent, and periodic. Without those attributes, what do you have? Information, but not a magazine.
    That is not necessarily a bad thing just a thing to note. We are moving on. Perhaps there is a better platform than the one we use now. That is fine but our franchise is building, branding and making magazines. The “something else” is in fact, something else and not a magazine. By my likes a traditional longitudinal non-paginated web site is many things, lots of them good but it is not a magazine.

  • @Bo. I think (wow) we agree on this one. I won’t take the time to link back to my early rants on the whole issue of calling something a digital magazine — or a website, a magazine (like Slate.com does). I’ve also made peace with the “electronic edition” platform and the concept of replicating something online that has the attributes you describe. One of the reasons I’ve made peace is that I’ve discovered some creative uses of the platform (video, for example) and the major players in the category have addressed many of my early complaints with such issues as the ability to link to and from specific text. My preference still remains, however, to seek ways to utilize each unique medium to its fullest rather than to replicate one medium’s strength on another.