Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Autosport magazine to add digital option // The printed paper edition gets an online presence

Published by Christine

A stack of paper magazines - the old way of doing things?
Credit: theseanster93 (creative commons)

This week, F1 fans received some excellent, and forward-thinking, news from the fine folks at the publishing company Haymarket. A forum post appeared on Wednesday with an announcement of an announcement, but this time it was about something we've long been calling for.

The post, written by Autosport.com's Publishing Manager, read:

Following on from the trial during the postal strike of last year, and based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback it received, I can let you know that a digital version of AUTOSPORT will be launched next month.

There will be a formal announcement in due course, but the digital version will be free to existing magazine subscribers and we will offer it at a discounted price to Autosport.com PLUS subscribers.

We've been pushing for more and more in the way of online resources from publishers because quite honestly, it's the future. Mr C wrote a two-part rant back in August last year, entitled Print is Dead, and since then, we've gradually started to see a bit of a shift. When the postal strike hit, the major flaw in the print subscription model was highlighted. What was already out of date information became even more irrelevant by the time it reached consumer doormats, and in some cases it never showed up at all. The introduction of a temporary digital installment of the magazine was a stroke of genius, and a great way to deal with the problem, but it was a sad moment when it disappeared.

Previously, we'd been interested in purchasing the online subscription to Racecar Engineering, which is available through digital publishers Zinio. At the moment, the service isn't ideal, requiring you to download custom reading software. However, Zinio are working on an iPhone app, albeit one that's only available in the US at the moment. Presumably this will scale up for the iPad, and once available in the UK, we'd definitely consider subscribing to RCE. Mr C can then pretend to understand a digital version of the magazine, instead of the paper version.

For us, the ideal solution for an online magazine format is a PDF file, as showcased so well by GP+. Files are easy to archive and more importantly, you can search for words and phrases and find what you're looking for directly from your desktop. The solution that Autosport.com used to cover the postal strike trial, and presumably will continue to adopt for the upcoming subscription model, is provided by Ceros. This system provides a flash version of the magazine with scrollable pages and clickable links. It's a huge step in the right direction, but still isn't quite as accessible as we'd like.

All reservations aside, though, this is brilliant news from Haymarket, and has restored a little of our faith in their ability to adapt to changing technologies. This is the only way we would ever have subscribed to the weekly Autosport magazine again, and we shall be doing just that.

The real beneficiaries of this, though, are not us here in the UK, but the people living overseas who have to wait for their magazines to be shipped, and have nothing of an equivalent nature in their own countries. USF1 are bringing international fans to Formula 1, and now Autosport will bring timely F1 features and insight to them.

The information is at our fingerprints, but most importantly, at everybody's fingertips at the same time. Autosport are taking the right steps, even if they are baby ones. F1 Racing, it's now over to you.