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The Digital Magazine Awards 2010

Sky Magazine Live recently won the Digital Magazine of the Year award at the inaugural Digital Magazine Awards. Bruce Hudson looks at how digital magazines are evolving.

By Bruce Hudson

The Digital Magazine Awards are international awards celebrating the best of the digital publishing industry with categories ranging from Fashion, Lifestyle and News & Business Magazine of the Year to individual awards for Editor, Designer and Writer of the Year.

Sponsored by Quark, the Digital Magazine Awards were judged this year by luminaries from the digital publishing industry including Quark’s Vice President of Marketing Gavin Drake; Microsoft’s Executive Producer, Peter Bale; Telegraph Media Group’s Technology Editor, Shane Richmond and WIRED Magazine Editor, David Rowan.

We have had an unbelievable response with applicants from 26 countries and consistently high-quality entries throughout. The industry is really buzzing with innovation. Digital publishing is gaining momentum with an ever-increasing number of publications and more and more publishers looking to address the new challenges and opportunities that digital formats present.

The first generation of digital publishing delivered the electronic equivalent of a book. But not all books. It was for books with layouts and content that were simple enough for the small black-and-white screens of e-readers. This means that digital publishing opportunities were pretty much limited to trade books and newspapers. Magazines and about 85% of books have not been able to reach these devices, nor have corporations or other organisations been able to tap into them, because they just aren't suitable for design-rich content and their displays are too limited. That's changing.

To borrow Quark’s term, it is now time for Digital Publishing 2.0 – the second wave of technology that has made yesterday's innovation in digital publishing today's dinosaur, opening up an entirely new range of business opportunities to publishers, corporations, and other organisations.

The Digital Magazine Awards showed the door to boring flat PDFs where the only exciting feature is the page-turning effect. The Digital Magazine Awards have shown that the industry is more than ready to deliver engaging, interactive content that is informative and fun at the same time, with a full-colour, interactive multimedia experience through larger, more sophisticated displays in which consumers explore content through clickable videos, sound files, and other interactive functionality.

The most important difference between Digital Publishing 2.0 and Digital Publishing 1.0 is that it offers publishers and others a variety of ways to distinguish digital content from traditional content. This means they can – at least potentially can – develop new revenue models for digital experiences.

Personally, I started the awards because I was looking for direction for my own publication, Retro Magazine, and five months down the line we have 17 categories of awards with winners from around the world.

Congratulations to Sky Magazine Live, our first Magazine of the Year. A magazine of outstanding quality which ticked all the boxes of what a great digital magazine should be and has set the standard that all others will need to surpass.

I know that you, like me, are already excited about the prospect of next year’s awards to see how the industry continues to adapt to new challenges.