In defence of emags

by Steve Watson in August 2009
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Little White Lies has just uploaded its latest issue to the web, so if you haven’t already seen it go have a flick through its digital pages. The magazine editors and publishers I speak to these days seem to be warming to the idea of emags – it’s not long ago that they were viewed with suspicion, but the prevailing thought now is that distributing for free online can only help independent magazines to sell more of their paper copies.

So, in the interest of getting more independent magazines out there on Issuu and the like, here’s a quick list of reasons why I think emags are brilliant.


You don’t have to put a whole magazine online if you don’t want to. IdN does a good job of clipping bits out of its print version and pulling it all together in a flickable online version. It’s not as good as the real paper thing, but then no emag is ever as good as the real thing.


Little White Lies is a brilliant example of how you can use emags to give readers more. Users can click links in the copy to get more information about actors and movies, they can view clips and trailers and generally interact with the magazine. Of course this means allowing users to navigate away from the emag, but the White Lies team are confident that the magazine is good enough for people to keep coming back to read more – that’s certainly the way I read it.


Regular readers of the Stack blog will know that I loved Bearded during its brief life, but unfortunately I only came across it in time for its last couple of issues. Now that every issue is available to flick through online, though, I can go back to it and read whenever I want. Independent magazines do have a nasty habit of dying out, so it’s great to know that a magazine can be preserved online for posterity.


And last but by no means least, is distribution. I came across Mule at Colophon earlier this year and have loved reading it as an emag. It’s a small free title made in Tennessee so it’s pretty much impossible to get hold of it over here, but it’s a great read – incredibly high quality considering the resources they have available.

I’ve thought in the past that I should put together a proper list of emags that everyone should know about, and I suppose now I’ve made a start. Which titles have I missed? Let me know your favourites and maybe we can start a regular roundup of the best emags available online…

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