You think there’s a market for your tablet magazine in an overseas, non-English market, but you don’t have the resources to roll out another edition alongside your existing one. What do you do?
Well here’s an idea – why not publish two different language versions of the magazine in one edition?
That’s what newly launched fine wine lifestyle magazine By The Bottle has done, after being surprised to find that China was one of the largest markets for its first edition.
“We get quite a few US readers, and quite a few British readers, we even get some from Luxembourg, but apart from traditional wine markets, the next dominant market is China,” says By The Bottle editor Georgie Clarke. “China might have had more downloads than any other country.”
The standard response from most publishers to this challenge would be to translate content and put out another separate edition. But Clarke says financial constraints – the magazine is mostly available free and advertising is in its infancy – meant that wasn’t an option.
So for the second edition of By The Bottle, Clarke and the magazine’s founder Vim Chatwani decided to build two versions of the magazine within one shell, allowing readers to consume the English version in portrait, but also get a Mandarin version for Chinese readers by turning to landscape.
Clarke tells us:
We are using (Swedish-owned iPad publishing platform) Mag+ and they do so much work for us and solve so many problems, but we are a young company and it’s very expensive to produce these on iPads, there are different types of software and you pay each time you publish.
There were still additional costs involved in producing the dual-language version, but these were restricted to design and translation costs.
Only possible because you’re small?
One of the main reasons By the Bottle was able to try a different solution was because a small, young startup, they weren’t hampered by a long chain of command.
We’re small, we‘re efficient and our costs are low. If we want to make a decision we say right lets do it. We don’t have to turn around for permission, or ask someone in IT. That makes us able to try anything.
The other thing this story shows is just how ripe foreign language markets are for western brands looking for expansion. South America, South Asia, China and East Asia look set to take over from the US as the principle target for overseas digital success.
The assumption has been that English-speaking markets are the safest bet for easy returns from investment: MailOnline’s dominance globally is based on huge traction in the States. Notably, the Mail is also the most-read site is several non-English speaking markets.
But in a globalised content economy in which China’s widely predicted rise as a cultural power as well as economic one, the shift to Chinese-language publishing looks like a good long-term bet.