You already know that the Phil Steele 2023 College Football Preview has three to four times the information of any other college football preview. You already know that we give the same amount of coverage to teams like Akron or Jacksonville State that we give to Georgia and Ohio State which is two full pages. You already know we spend seven months putting this magazine together each year. It is called the bible of college football for a reason and by the end of the year everyone’s magazine is dogged eared, torn up and marked up due to constant use.
A few years ago, I dipped my toe in the water of the digital magazine market. The results were underwhelming. The first company we used was decent and got the magazine up and readable, but it took a long time from the day it was printed until it was produced. We used them for a couple of years. They were decent. Another company came along with lots of promises. They improved the speed of getting it on the market the first year, but the digital version would go down from time to time. They had a lot of promises of how great they were and how they would have a first-class product. In the second year instead of being improved they had more problems. The third year they got even worse and then just basically took my money and went out business a month or two into the season and the digital version was a disaster. If you bought my digital version in those early years, I apologize for any problems you encountered.
I pride myself in producing a FIRST-CLASS magazine where you can trust the source on all 133 teams and trust the information that is on the pages. With basically 1,000,000 words and numbers in the magazine, even if we had just 1% typos or mistakes, there would be 10,000 typos. We have very few typos in the magazine so our accuracy in that department is closer to 99.9%. The magazine is the best on the market by far and I take great pride in spending all 365 days of the focusing on one sport, College Football. The experiences I had with the digital version were unacceptable. The problems with the digital version had me thinking of discontinuing that aspect of the magazine as it was less than first class.
In 2021 Learfield approached me with a partnership deal that included them producing the digital magazine. Now, Learfield is a FIRST-CLASS company that is very entwined in College Sports. In 2021 they took over the digital magazine and delivered on every promise they made about the magazine. One of the really neat features was that they could update the pages as changes happened. We did update the pages the pages in 2021 all the way up to the start of the season. The digital version worked great, worked all year long and was updated thru the start of September.
In 2022 there was a paper shortage, so we had to print the magazine in two runs. The first run went entirely to my good friends at Barnes and Noble. The second run was done in late June and is finally hitting stores like Books-A-Million, CVS, Food Lion, Kroger, HEB, Harris Teeter, Ingles, HyVee, Meijer’s, Publix, Food Lion, Safeway, Walgreens, and Walmart. The good news is the digital version was updated all the way thru September and with no glitches and worked just fine.
Today’s blog is all about the digital version. The digital version will clearly save you some wear and tear on this year’s magazine. I carry my magazine everywhere with me and I cannot do a radio or TV show without it at my fingertips. The digital version allows me to have it on my phone or even on my computer in my home office and not have to always have the hard copy on hand. If I have my phone on me, I have my magazine!
One great feature of the digital magazine is that is available about one day after we send the magazine to the press. Last year we had major problems with a printer in Denver that we were forced to use due to the paper shortage. They took WEEKS to print the magazine. This year we offered a special VIP package thru the end of May. Part of that package was giving a free digital magazine with the VIP package. My VIP members were able to access the magazine via the digital version two weeks before it came off the press and about a month before it started to hit the bookstores. I will have a blog in late September letting you know how to get the VIP deal for next year.
This year the magazine took a few extra days to be finished printing and collating so it was about 10 days after we sent the last page to the press. The digital version was up two days after we sent the magazine to the press so ALL of my VIP members actually had the digital version 8 days BEFORE the magazine was even off the press!
Now this is the 29th edition of the magazine and you know I am old school when it comes to how I want to access the information. I want it in magazine form and in my hands. Due to the feedback, I get, I would say most of my readers feel the same way! I do realize that some of my younger readers ONLY use the digital version and rarely use printed materiel. I remember a couple of years ago that former Ohio State/Minnesota Viking RB Robert Smith who was a colleague of mine at ESPN told me he preferred the digital version over the physical version. I would estimate there is a decent amount of the population that prefer digital.
The interesting feature about the digital is that the Learfield digital version is updated DAILY thru the months of June, July, and August. Last year Bill Clark retired as the head coach of UAB over the summer. I could not change the physical magazine but the digital was updated the next day with Bryant Vincent listed as the head coach and his coaching records. As players were ruled out for the year due to injury or suspension or transfer portal, we circled them on the digital pages. If a player was added, we added them to the digital pages. We will do the same this year and keep your digital up to date all the way into September. This year already coach Pat Fitzgerald or Northwestern was let go and we have the Coaches profile updated for David Braun in the digital version.
The digital version will allow you to keep the hard copy of the magazine in better shape during the year. It now keeps you up to date with all the latest changes and injuries that have happened since the magazine has gone to the press. If you would like to purchase the digital version of the magazine you can do so right now and have access to the magazine in the next couple of minutes! All you have to do to get the digital magazine is click HERE.