By Mik Strøyberg | Head of Consumer Engagement for Issuu

You can tell a lot about a person by taking a look at what he or she reads. Suppose you walk into a stranger’s home and see copies of Forbes magazine on the table. You would likely imagine the householder is interested in business. Assume you see copies of Dog News or Equine Journal. You would probably conclude that he is an animal lover. If you spotted a stack of VICE magazines, you could safely surmise that he has an irreverent sense of humor. The point is that publications give unique clues to our identity.

When we select a publication, our ostensible purpose is to get information on a particular topic, to stay informed about current events or to be entertained. But the message we send to other people about our identities with the publications we choose is another important aspect of the transaction. Many people carefully select magazines to display in a spread on a coffee table. They do this not only to have reading material close at hand, but also to communicate key messages about themselves to visitors.

The rise of digital communications—with publications increasingly accessed online or via mobile devices—makes it tempting to conclude that publications will play less of a role in communicating readers’ personal identities in the future. You can’t leave an iPad displaying a spread from your favorite DIY magazine on your coffee table to communicate how handy you are, after all; it would shut down to preserve the battery.

But as it turns out, digital publications can actually supercharge our ability to share key facets of our identities. That’s because we can share our favorite publications and the articles we find interesting with friends and associates on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. The combination of digital publications and social media has broadened our ability to share identities immeasurably since we can now share links instantaneously worldwide.

The identity-sharing aspect of digital publications represents a quantum leap forward for publishers too, and many are implementing strategies to fully realize the opportunities. Some, like U.S. newsmagazine Newsweek, are fully embracing the possibilities of digital publishing by putting all their eggs in the digital basket: Editor Tina Brown recently announced that the magazine will cease print publication at the end of the year to move to an all-digital format.

Many others are pursuing print and digital publication strategies, capitalizing on both mediums to expand their readership. Publishers who move into the digital space fully cognizant of its possibilities can enhance their chances of success by ensuring that their digital publishing platform reaches all operating systems and screen sizes for maximum market penetration.

But no matter what strategy publishers choose to pursue, it’s clear that publications are here to stay. They are more than a vehicle for staying informed or accessing entertainment; they are an integral part of our identities.

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About the Author:

Mik Stroyberg is Director of Consumer Engagement and U.S. Sales at Issuu, the world’s fastest growing digital publishing platform, with more than 4.5 million publishers and host to over 8 million publications. 




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