As I have been preparing for my opening presentation, I've been struck by how many times 'will' has been replaced by 'are' when I talk about what magazines are doing in digital. For me the biggest change since I last did this event two years ago has been the arrival of tablet editions that work. The Audit Bureau of Circulations says that digital circulation of magazines has doubled in the past year. 3.1 million digital copies were sold in the second half of 2011, up from 1.5 million copies in 2010.
Duncan Edwards at Hearst believes readers prefer simpler, page-turning editions, and I agree with him - the growth in digital subscription sales of the past 18 months has been driven, not by hugely interactive re-imaginings of the magazine for the tablet, but by readers' appetite for the same things they get from print repurposed in an instant, very portable format.
I'll be following Next Issue with interest. It's a sort of NetFlix for tablets, with a single subscription giving access to magazines from multiple publishers. Right now it's on Android but we're promised an ipad version soon.
Perhaps it's too soon to say the tablet has saved magazines, but it's certainly made the future look a little brighter for all of us.