This is what top publishers’ ePaper strategies look like in 2024 (and why they work).

Converting print readers to engaged digital subscribers is one of the key challenges publishers face.

Enter the digital transformation.

But not everyone is on board. Older readers who prefer printed papers often resist consuming the news through digital formats. Yet while print remains a significant revenue source for publishers, many foresee discontinuing it within the next decade. As a result, they are actively seeking ways to transition their loyal print readers to digital platforms.

Digital ePapers (replica editions) have proven effective in capturing this aging audience. What are some possible reasons behind their success? ePaper readers tend to engage deeply with the content, with German ePaper users, for example, spending an average of 37 minutes daily reading multiple sections, mirroring their engagement with print newspapers. This habitual engagement is a strong factor in reader preference, making ePapers vital in defining the new role of print.

The convenience of ePapers is another significant advantage. They allow readers to access newspapers anytime and anywhere, a feature particularly useful for those who travel frequently. Moreover, the ability to read offline sets ePapers apart from other digital formats that require constant internet access.

As we have known for a while, many readers prefer the finite nature of ePapers over a live news feed. This preference highlights the enduring appeal of structured, edition-based content, even in the digital age.

Subscribers who have access to both print and ePaper editions are more likely to maintain their subscriptions due to the flexibility and supplementary nature of ePapers. This dual-format approach supports subscriber retention by catering to diverse reading preferences and habits.

Most publishers have maintained an ePaper strategy for years, and for good reason: in Europe, the ePaper market is expected to grow by 1.83% annually until 2027.

The Future of ePaper in Germany

In Germany, ePapers are projected to represent 28% of all subscriptions by 2030, a significant growth from the current state. While print revenue is declining, ePaper and other paid content revenue is projected to increase by around 20% in Germany in 2024.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • Pricing Analysis: Current pricing strategies for digital and ePaper subscriptions across various publications.
  • ePaper Trends: Insights into how ePapers engage older readers and maintain subscriber retention.
  • Case Studies: Success stories of publications from Europe and the US transitioning to digital.
  • Key Strategies: Effective methods for publishers to navigate the shift from print to digital and boost engagement.

By reading this article, you’ll gain a clear understanding of the current and future landscape of the ePaper market and its positioning in the overall publishers’ offer.

How much are replica editions worth, according to publishers?

We have gathered the current price from 18 leading European publications in May 2024 to understand the price differential between standard digital access and the cheapest offer including access to a replica edition.

Examining the pricing trends for digital subscriptions reveals important insights. The average cost for standard digital subscriptions across various publications in May 2024 is approximately €15 per month, while ePaper subscriptions average higher at €26 per month. This price differential reflects the added value that ePaper editions provide to readers who prefer print’s layout and comprehensive nature combined with the convenience of digital access.

Notably, premium publications such as the Financial Times command the highest prices for both digital and ePaper subscriptions. The Financial Times charges €45.00 per month for its standard digital subscription and €69.00 for its ePaper edition, indicating a substantial premium for the enhanced digital experience.

In contrast, some publications offer more affordable options. For instance, La Vanguardia and De Telegraaf have positioned their digital and ePaper subscriptions at the lower end of the pricing spectrum, with both formats available at €4.00 and €7.96 per month, respectively. These competitive price points are likely aimed at attracting a broader audience, including price-sensitive readers transitioning from print to digital formats.

Publications like Le Monde and Corriere Della Sera demonstrate a strategic mid-range pricing approach. Le Monde offers its digital subscription for €10.92 per month and its ePaper subscription for €27.00 per month, balancing affordability with the perceived value of the comprehensive news package provided by its ePaper editions. On the other hand, Corriere Della Sera prices its digital subscription at €8.33 per month and its ePaper subscription at €24.99 per month.

Overall, the trend in pricing for ePaper and digital subscriptions highlights a strategic segmentation aimed at maximizing revenue while catering to diverse reader preferences. Premium publications leverage their brand and content quality to command higher prices, whereas others adopt competitive pricing to expand their digital readership.

European publishers are gaining traction in the print-to-digital transition

Several major publications illustrate the broader trends of print-to-digital transformation.

  • Le Monde: Increased from 100,000 subscribers in 2016 to 535,000 in 2023 (up 535%). Le Monde has successfully integrated digital editions into its offerings, enhancing reader engagement through digital replicas and digital-native editions like “La Matinale du Monde”.
  • BILD: Increased from 30,000 ePaper readers in 2016 to 165,000 in 2023 (up 550%). BILD, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, has shown a significant shift from print to digital. With an average print circulation of 1.15 million and a digital circulation of over 700,000 in 2023, BILD has effectively transitioned many print subscribers to digital formats.
  • Der Spiegel: Increased from 50,000 ePaper readers in 2016 to 295,000 in 2023 (up 590%). Der Spiegel, one of Germany’s most influential news magazines, has embraced a robust digital strategy, focusing on high-quality online journalism and interactive digital formats. This approach expanded their digital subscriber base significantly and allowed them to engage a younger, more tech-savvy audience.
  • Corriere della Sera: Increased from 171,000 ePaper readers in 2016 to 553,000 in 2023 (up 320%). The share of replica readers went from 7.4% of total readers to 31.6% over the same period. Il Corriere della Sera saw a significant spike in digital subscriptions at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Key initiatives included offering annual subscription options and implementing a dynamic paywall based on machine learning models to predict subscription likelihood.
  • La Repubblica: Increased from 186,000 ePaper readers in 2016 to 452,000 in 2023 (up 240%). The share of replica readers went from 8.2% of total readers to 31% in the same period. GEDI has invested significantly in digital transformation by acquiring various digital properties and focusing on new digital content formats. GEDI Digital has also leveraged advanced technologies and partnerships to enhance its digital offerings, leading to increased engagement and a broader digital audience.

Print-to-digital transition in the US

Switching focus from the European market to the US, similar trends and strategic shifts in digital transformation can be observed. In fact, the US market is often more along in its digital transformation. As the cost of print deliveries is shrinking profit margins, many publishers are starting to phase out or stop printing in favor of digital products.

In 2020, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (ADG) completed its digital conversion, transitioning nearly 36,000 home delivery subscribers (79% of its print subscribers) to digital. This significant move cost $12M, covering the purchase of over 27,000 iPads and $90 per subscriber in digital product training. However, it has proven worthwhile, with ADG ceasing home delivery from Monday to Saturday in 63 of Arkansas’ 75 counties, retaining print only on Sundays. Notably, some Sunday-only subscribers upgraded their subscriptions to include the Digital Replica, with the average revenue per Digital Replica subscriber now exceeding $32/month.

Similarly, the Alabama Media Group, part of Advance Local, discontinued print editions for its three major newspapers—The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, and Mobile’s Press-Register—due to declining print subscriptions and a growing digital audience. The focus shifted to, which now reaches over a million readers daily and has seen a 67% increase in digital advertising revenue since 2017. They also introduced “The Lede,” a daily edition powered by Twipe’s innovative NextGen technology with interactive features and mobile-first formatting.

Across different markets, the activation rate for print subscribers converting to digital varies. For example, the Tampa Bay Times reported engaging 50,000 of its 200,000 daily print subscribers on their e-edition, indicating a conversion rate of around 25%.

Key Takeaways for Publishers

To successfully navigate the shift from print to digital, publishers should consider the following strategies:

  • Invest in interactive and enriched digital content to offer a compelling digital reading experience. Incorporating multimedia elements and interactive features can significantly enhance reader engagement.
  • Clearly communicate the benefits and ease of use of digital replicas to help transition print readers. Tailored communication campaigns can highlight the advantages of digital formats, such as convenience and accessibility.
  • Adopt advanced digital formats and ensure user-friendly navigation on digital platforms. Innovations like responsive design and seamless cross-device experiences can attract and retain digital subscribers.
  • Provide combined print and digital subscriptions to offer value and ease the transition for subscribers. Bundled packages can cater to diverse reader preferences and maximize subscription uptake.


ePapers have become essential tools for European and US publishers, effectively transitioning print readers to digital formats. With the decline in print revenues, ePapers offer a promising revenue stream, projected to grow significantly in the coming years. For example, in Germany, ePapers are expected to constitute 28% of all subscriptions by 2030, doubling from current figures.

Success stories from publications like Le Monde, BILD, and Corriere della Sera highlight the potential of ePapers to boost subscription numbers and enhance reader engagement. These publications have implemented strategic pricing and innovative formats to cater to diverse audiences.


Carlo Prato
Digital Marketer

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