Posted October 14, 2013 by in New Technology

Free Digital Magazines Now Available at Some Libraries

Zinio-IpadThe pleasure of reading a magazine is a visually stimulating experience. There’s the glossy feel of the paper, the color of the artistic photographs, and the layout of the text around the images. Some magazines communicate academic messages while others are purely for pleasure reading and still others intend to inform. Just as the evolution of books has gone digital, magazines are starting to show up in digital formats as well. Some are saying that a full color device does the high-quality images more justice than any kind of paper. What’s more, several public libraries are offering free magazines in this new digital format, adding it to the other virtual services that are becoming popular. Zinio is one of these services offering digital magazines and is available free through many public libraries.

How it works

One such library that offers these free digital magazines is the Los Angeles Public Library system. As a part of their other e-media services, they have recently added to their online collection so that those with public library cards in the LA area can get popular magazines like Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, Martha Stewart Living, and National Geographic for free. As an example of how these new digital magazines work, let’s walk through the basic process. Instead of starting at Zinio’s website, a patron with a valid library card would use their computer, tablet, or other internet-ready device to go to the Los Angeles Public Library website and find the e-media tab. After scrolling through the available options, patrons can click the Zinio link to sign up for an account. After entering your library card number and pin, the service allows you to choose a password and enter your e-mail address. Once you’re signed in, you can choose from the full-color magazine options that are free by the issue or via yearly subscription. The service also has magazines available for purchase, but those with a library card can just stick to the free magazines paid for by their library.

The Advantages

Any digital screen these days can manage a higher quality image than paper can. Those dynamic little pixels capture color and texture for a truly lush result, and that can make all the difference when looking at nature photos from National Geographic or high fashion photography in Vanity Fair. Viewing a magazine on a digital device takes the publication up to its highest standard. Other advantages are being able to get the magazine at the earliest possible time since digital media is released before print, and having the ability to get delivery of the magazine immediately from anywhere that you have internet access. Those who like to keep old copies of magazines will be pleased that their collection fits in a much smaller space and stays in pristine condition.




Downloading anything requires internet access, but downloading magazines requires a good, fast connection that will allow you to browse your magazine without having to wait for each page to painstakingly load. Also, your device may not have the memory to view huge, high-quality images one after another and may have some issues loading each high-resolution page. Check with the manufacturer of the device to see if it’s ideal for this kind of reading. Secondly, if you’re using a device that allows you to download apps, the Zinio app is ideal. Once you’ve signed in with your user login, the app will remember your information and update your library of magazines automatically. Especially if you’re having problems with pages loading slowly, find the button on your device that shows you the magazine’s table of contents and use it. It will let you skip through the magazine with ease, finding the articles you want to read and the photos you want to see first.

What’s your reaction to digital magazines? Too new or something you’ve been waiting for?

Lauren V. Bryant

Having studied library and information sciences in a graduate program at San Jose State University, Lauren is a professional librarian who has worked in school and public libraries. She currently works at a public library where she helps the public get e-books and other downloadables on their devices. Check out Lauren's website, http://www.LaurentheLibrarian.com/ for more book related articles and content. Check out all my articles.