Innovators: circulation

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While many circulation executives sat back to wait while others went through the trial-and-error phase of learning about digital magazine delivery, PennWell Publishing's Gloria Adams recognized its value early on and forged ahead. "Now, we have more than 70,000 digital subscribers across 20 publications," she said.

After conducting a pioneering research study comparing the reading habits of digital and print subscribers last fall, Adams is getting ready to annualize it. In the first survey, she found there wasn't much of a difference between the two groups other than the fact that digital subscribers renew better.

Adams spent this past January and February testing audience response to four digital magazine vendors-Qmags, Texterity, Olive Software and Zinio-across eight titles.

"For each title, we tested our standard vendor against just one of the three test technologies. We contacted the digital subscribers beforehand to tell them of the test and I was amazed at the number we heard from," Adams said.

"Even before they got the test, they would say something like, `I hope it's not Vendor X.' People who are not in the publishing business know a lot more about this technology than you might think."

After studying some of the hottest vendors in digital publishing, Adams found that, for now, "people really like the portability and ease of a PDF," she said.

Adams' career in circulation spans more than two decades, back to a time when it was rare for a woman to be running a circulation department. "I have always been very assertive, and I constantly pushed boundaries," she said. "Once you rise to the top, you better be innovative if you want to stay on top." -Marie Griffin

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