PDF Magazines vs. Interactive Magazines


Digital magazines in the market today are of two types: PDF magazines and bespoke, interactive magazines. Though PDF magazines have the majority of the market share today, many publishers are migrating to interactive magazines. In this blog post, we will evaluate the pros and cons of both types of magazines and help you understand which is the right format you, as a publisher, should choose to use.

PDF Magazines

There are three main things you should know about PDF magazines:

  1. PDF magazines are essentially exports of the InDesign files used for production. As there are no special skill sets required to produce the PDF, PDF magazines are cheap and quick to produce.
  2. PDF magazines, though easy to add on to the existing production workflow for publishers, have several limitations. They offer no interactivity apart from the basic page transition effects. From an editorial perspective, there are limited options for storytelling and designing an engaging visual and experiential identity.
  3. Because of these shortcomings, the content in PDF magazines has low recall and it becomes difficult to differentiate between different brands. Consequently, market conditions and commodity economics govern pricing and the eventual return on investment. In essence, PDF magazines are a commodity.

Bespoke, Interactive Magazines

On the other end of the interactivity spectrum, you have bespoke, interactive magazines. Interactive magazines, unlike PDF magazines, expand the tool set for creative storytelling and deliver a memorable experience.

  1. Bespoke apps create an immersive experience for the reader by harnessing the device capabilities and pull them deeper into the magazine. They go beyond PDF magazines and provide features such as localization and intuitive interactivity. They help readers find greater relevance and recall with the entire experience.
  2. Bespoke apps can offer transactional capabilities as well. Shopping carts, e-commerce, reviews and payments can be easily integrated to enable magazines to offer a ‘One-Tap-Buy’ functionality – a critical component in increasing ROI and generating revenue. This is not feasible with PDF magazines.
  3. The additional functionality provided by bespoke magazines comes at a cost. Publishers need to invest in additional software, training and skilled resources. The editorial approach will also need to evolve into a ‘digital first’ approach and expand on the content offered in print editions. As PDF magazines don’t have this cost, they are cheaper than interactive magazines.


Both PDF magazines and interactive magazines offer significant benefits to publishers. However, looking at the trends in the market and the way technology and access is growing in the world, we believe that interactive magazines are the way forward for publishers. Despite the additional investment required for creating bespoke magazines, the process can be a smooth and rewarding one. Publishers can benefit from the increased attention from users and the higher ROI from their publications.

About Us

Pixel Mavericks is a Digital KPO offering Rich Interactive Magazine Apps for Smart Devices across any Digital Publishing Platform. Based out of Dubai and India, our team of specialists can help you transition easily and peacefully into the exciting world of digital publishing.



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This article was written on 20 Jun , 2014.  

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