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Ask the editor – Architectural Review goes digital

Ask the editor – Architectural Review goes digital


After over three decades of being independently published in Australia, Architectural Review is now digital only. ADR chats to Madeleine Swain to find out what was behind the move.

ADR: To begin with, who are you and how long have you been with Architectural Review (AR)?

Madeleine Swain: I’m the managing editor and I’ve been in this role since 2016, when the magazine first shifted its focus from the creative discipline to the business of architecture (with a hiatus for some months in 2020/21 when Tili Bensley-Nettheim was at the helm).

ADR: So, we’ve now seen the last printed edition of AR. The obvious question is why?

Swain: It’s a simple question, but the answer is a little more detailed. As is well-known by now, traditional print publishing has faced a challenging few years. Declining advertising support has been the reality across the board, and more and more newspapers, magazines and even books have migrated away from the printed form.

Perhaps the best way to explain it is that if Madonna were releasing one of her biggest pop hits in 2022 she would not be singing about ‘living in a material world’, but a digital one.

ADR: Oh, that’s a shame… we did always enjoy flicking through the printed copy of the magazine over our morning coffee.

Swain: Well, not so fast. Apart from the holdouts who just can’t seem to stop getting a physical copy of the daily newspaper because they like to do the crosswords, nine-letter words and Sudokus manually (or is that just me?), most people in the world do now use their smartphones and other devices to access all sorts of information, including newspapers, magazines and other published material.

And for a magazine like AR, there are actually a whole range of benefits of migrating to the digital realm. Costs may be the obvious one, but as managing editor that’s not even in my top three. (My publisher, of course, may say differently…)

ADR: All right then, that leads to another obvious question. Can you tell us what do you think are the top three advantages of AR being digital only?

Swain: I’d be delighted. In no particular order they are:

Capability – the physical pages of a magazine are finite and only allow a certain number of words, images and other content. We often feature projects and articles that come with a whole gallery of images or other collateral, which could merely be alluded to previously. Now we can share it all. All the photographs and plans of a project or video tours and interviews. So, with a simple click of a button on your screen, you can see and hear all the bits that once upon a time would have wound up on our metaphorical cutting room floor. That extra paragraph that gives added flavour or background to a story, but for which there was no room on the page? No longer a problem.

And of course readers are never forced to access all the new material. Time-poor readers can pick and choose the most relevant or interesting content and click straight to it. Every time.

Connectivity – with features like the ‘ask the editor’ button, an open two-way dialogue is also only a click away. Sure, it’s a long time since letters to the editor entailed writing a note, stamping the envelope and trying to catch the last post, but a single click is even more intuitive and immediate than seeking out the email addresses of anyone you may like to contact. Plus, when you see products or services of interest, you can connect to suppliers directly, get more information about them or request samples, for example.

And, here’s another good one… At AR we really do go to great pains to ensure that all the content is fact checked and correct at the time of publication, but even the most conscientious of editorial teams can slip up sometimes. If, in the unlikely event that any errors ever do slip through, we won’t have to sit there gritting our teeth, before penning grovelling apologies for the next edition and then being reminded of the mistake every time we see the issue in future. They can be fixed! Almost instantaneously. A few clicks in the back end and it’s like it never happened.

Sustainability – this is going to sound horribly hypocritical after the devotion to paper-based newspaper puzzles admission, but we all know that our planet is drowning in waste materials and chopping down forests at an utterly unsustainable rate. Architectural Review going digital is us doing at least something to address the issue. Yes, there are the resources needed to produce the electricity and materials that create and power our devices, but until we can download the magazine directly to our readers’ brains that will have to be a problem for another day…

We invite you to experience the first digital edition of Architectural Review! Click here to access the complimentary issue.  If you enjoy this issue, consider subscribing to future issues.

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