At the crossroads of journalism and technology

E-Zine Review

by Seung-Hoon Lee


When I first got to know the terminology "e-zine", I thought it was the one of the marketing methods to widen disclosure to potential customers and to induce them into the market. The fact that the most popular magazines started to create on-line version might make me have this kind of preoccupation about e-zine. Surely there are a number of on-line version of existing magazines on WWW, but with certainly different characteristics from those of paper version. In this small article I will glance the e-zine industry itself and try to identify the characteristics of the industry. To reach this goal, first I tried to find the metadata, like magazine database, to get the taste of market size. Several searching engines, like Yahoo, Alta Vista, have the magazine section and also I could find several specialized e-zine database, E-ZINE LIST, e Zines. With hundreds to thousands of magazines in the database, these database site support the presence of e-zine industry.

To find out the real purpose of the e-zine, I randomly chose several magazines to visit. My question was what magazines have their on-line version for. The reason of maintaining Web site could be additional revenue through on-line subscription, selling advertise, or on-line shopping. Advertising and promoting the existing paper version could also be the major reason to have the site. Or that's because the management of magazine just do not want to be left behind in hot trend of new media; this could be the most important reason. In this article I'd like to compare e-zine sites in aspects of following several questions, focusing on sports in terms of contents to narrow down the scope.


  1. Does the site have the paper version? (Y/N)
  2. Whether the site charge for the eyeball? (Y/N)
  3. Does the site have the advertising or shopping section? (Y/N)
  4. Does the site regularly update the contents of page? (Y/N)


The result of selected 10 e-zines survey

Qus./Mag.
Golf online
Asian diver online
The Art Bin
Vanguard Station
Consumable Online
Maranatha Christian Journal
ChipNet
All terrain's adbanture
Finesse Market Journal
Notes from Windowill
No.1
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
No.2
N
Y
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
No.3
Y
Y
N
N
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
No.4
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N

As a result of random selection and review, I got a bit taste for the current e-zine. I found mainly two kinds of e-zine. One is purely supplementary purpose to its paper version with various advertising and sales pages, and the other is the one we can call real e-zine. But there are a lot of volatility in quality. Some e-zines have the clear mission and a lot of cool stuff but some are not enough to be called as a magazine. Moreover the contents of e-zine were not satisfactory enough to imagine that it would replace paper magazines in the near future. Sometimes I cannot even tell the difference between well-organized personal pages and e-zine of mediocre or less quality.

My finding on whether e-zine industry independently exists is rather controversial. Restricting the concept of industry to 'group of firms with closely substitutable goods', I may say e-zine industry currently shows vague directions in industry wide evolution and can not make any clear answer for the industry itself.

But seeing from the viewpoint of the whole magazine industry, I can notice two distinctive changes in this industry. First, e-zine has expanded magazine market as a complementary goods of paper version. Not like the paper version which needs physical raw material and logistics costs, on-line version only needs "bytes", which well described in "Being Digital" by Nicholas Negrophonte. This cost structure enabled the magazine business to provide the free on-line version to the potential customer mainly for the advertising. The characteristics of being digital already decided the role of e-zine in the initial stage.

Second, the same cost characteristics got to the opposite direction. The low cost structure enabled the creation of small size rudimentary e-zines. If we agree to accept these as magazine, a lot of new entry have been made into magazine industry. So we can conclude that the financial restriction was the major entry barrier for the small group who want to share their ideas with people.

As a conclusion, I do not think there is separate e-zine industry. E-zine is just the one, fashionable part of magazine industry. With the emergence of being digital technology, the tangible entry barriers was almost banished. This change have not modified and maybe will not modify the nature of big scale magazine significantly, but will create enormous small size e-zines eventually with unpredictable potential.

Seung-Hoon Lee