Digital publishing takes a new turn as Readly, a £10-a-month service which lets users read magazines on an ‘all you can read’ basis, has opened its doors in the UK.

Fourteen consumer publishers including IPC and Haymarket have put their titles on the site, which offers a two-week free trial. Users can register up to five devices on iOS, Android, Kindle and Windows.

The key innovation Readly brings to the market is the Spotify business-model. Other platforms like Zinio and Magzter allow readers to buy single titles or bundle a few titles together. With Readly, provided you have an active subscription, you can read anything on the site. As Readly’s UK head Ranj Begley told me last week, its therefore an all-or-nothing business as far as Readly is concerned. Get the titles and the subscribers will stick.

Readly's magazine site digital publishing

Readly’s magazine site

Backed by Joel Wikell, who founded  Swedish online casino company Boss Media, Readly has already opened in the USA and Sweden. “Many aspects of entertainment consumption such as music and film have already demonstrated the effectiveness of the subscription model and magazines are a natural development of this trend.” Readly’s CEO Per Hellberg, said at this week’s launch.

We think the Netflix/Spotify model is the right way to go provided Readly can get quality titles on the site in addition to the usual supermarket-shelf dross. But the bigger opportunity is what Readly’s success could contribute to the digital publishing industry.

digital publishing

Pagelizard transforms magazines from PDF to HTML

The only question we have is whether Readly is sustainable because it is a PDF-only replica service. To make magazines truly tablet-editions they need to be output in an HTML format. Nobody is reading scans of book pages on their Kindle…

Once Readly – or any similar service – can transcribes the print magazine into a true digital publishing magazine then they will have a long-term proposition. Until then I fear the PDF replica will be cheap to process but readers will soon tire of the experience. 

Pagelizard is a complete PDF to HTML solution and, although its amazingly efficient and totally wonderful, we also know that to output hundreds of consumer titles in HTML is a huge job way beyond the economics of Readly’s current business. So, is Readly a fatally flawed concept? Or will they work it out in time? 



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