While most newspapers have been slow to make changes that will keep them alive, two niche magazine publishers are in the forefront of digital publishing. Digital Magazines 2010, a recent supplement to Folio Magazine highlighted Premier Guitar and Edgell Communications. (Disclosure: our President, Eileen Paulin has worked with the founder’s of both companies.)

Digital editions of Premier Guitar are available online, via and iPhone app, and soon to iPad users. The digital editions and apps are free, a subscription to print editions is not. A print subscription is $24.95. What is fascinating is that print subscriptions are growing. The digital formats are attracting readers, some are converting to paid print readers while the publisher grows its website and applications audience. According to the article in Folio, unique monthly visitors to the Premier Guitar website exceeded 800,000 at the beginning of 2010. It’s weekly e-newsletter has over 80,000 readers. Impressive to say the least.

On the facing page of the same issue is an article showcasing Edgell Communications‘ digital issues of B2B magazine, Consumer Goods Technology. The print issues and digital editions are completely different both in content and layout. The article quotes Bob Keenan, VP of online media, “…the biggest difference is that we produce a horizontal publication for our digital issues. We’ve literally flipped the layout on its side, redesigned the pages, and optimized them for digital format.” The reader does not have to zoom to read articles. If you have tried to read digital editions of many publications online you know what a convenience this is. Subscribers to the print edition can also receive the digital edition. If you prefer to only receive one format, that’s fine too. According to the article, Edgell plans to roll-out digital versions of its other controlled circulation brands in the next few months.

Both Premier Guitar and Edgell Communications understand the importance of online content, and are meeting their readers where they want to be met – across a variety of platforms. Both companies have been in publishing for many years, but that’s not stopping them from innovating.