In a very big sign of the digital times, The Big Issue In The North, a U.K. magazine sold by homeless street vendors to give them a steady income, is launching a digital edition, alongside its print edition. If a customer wants the digital version street vendors will sell them an access card with a QR code plus one-off access code on it which will enable them to download the edition to their smartphones or tablet.
Publications launching a digital edition to grow/keep up with their audience is not (generally) big news but what’s interesting here is the charity supporting the magazine, INSP (International Network of Street Papers), needed to find a way to ensure its homeless street vendors weren’t cut out of the sales process — being able to provide homeless people with work is a vital component of its work. And turns out QR codes were the answer. INSP reckons this is the first such launch of a digital street paper.
The digital edition is being launched in Manchester on October 29 and will roll out to other cities in the North of England in the coming weeks. The price for the paper and the digital edition of The Big Issue In The North will be the same (£2).
INSP is also planning to pilot a digital edition of another of its street papers – StreetWise — in Chicago using the same QR code access card model. If successful, the digital technology will be made available to all 122 street papers in its network.