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Study says readers prefer print to digital alternatives

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Stamford, Conn.--A survey released this week found that publishers waiting for readers to change to online from traditional print products may be wasting their time. The survey, conducted by InsightExpress L.L.C, an online market research firm, found that among those people who regularly read online magazines, only 22% actually prefer reading magazines online and 73% said they would not forgo their paper magazine for an online alternative—even at half the price.

A majority of respondents (63%) currently pay for a traditional magazine subscription, while nearly 80% expect online magazines to be free, according to the survey.

"Given that resources remain scarce, publishers would be better served to cut their losses when it comes to online publications and focus on their readers' overwhelming preference, high-quality paper magazines," said Lee Smith, COO of InsightExpress.

The survey does not bode well for publishers hoping to generate substantial revenue online. Only 32% percent of survey respondents read any magazines online. They cite inconvenience (54%); dislike of online banner ads, pop-ups and general distractions (47%); prices of online magazines (43%); and eyestrain (23%) as the main reasons for staying away.

There was one bright spot for online publications. A majority of readers (59%) say online publications provide more timely content. But only 22% say that online magazines provide higher-quality content than their print counterparts.

--Matthew Schwartz

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