I am writing this to inform the staff that the digital magazine subscription service Flipster will be ending in Allegheny County libraries on December 31, 2022. Once an innovative forerunner in the digital magazine game, Flipster has begun to show its age, outshined by relative newcomers Overdrive and hoopla. Before we announce anything to patrons, we wanted to take the time to explain why we are sunsetting Flipster.
Considering budgetary restraints and service overlap, the Digital Resources Committee (DRC) conducted a thorough review of all three big names in digital magazines: Flipster, Overdrive, and hoopla. It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a shot in the arm for digital access. With the dust starting to settle on the pandemic (or at least settle into the dreaded “new normal”), a re-evaluation of digital services was necessary. While looking at each provider, we considered several factors: usage, cost, user experience, authority/company reputation, accessibility, content availability, vendor service and administration, and mobile functionality. Each committee member took the time to independently evaluate these services with these criteria, and lo and behold: a consensus formed prior to discussion.
On all fronts, Flipster was coming up short. The final scores were: Flipster, 161; hoopla, 226, and Overdrive, 244. We found Flipster lagging on a number of important factors: missing latest editions, buggy/hard-to-use interface, limited back-issue access, and little name recognition. In addition, since the start of 2020, Flipster’s circulation decreased, an obvious red flag during an explosion of digital access and use. For these reasons, Flipster is the weakest link and a redundancy with both Overdrive and hoopla available to patrons.
Some patrons may take issue with the passing of trusty old Flipster, and we should be prepared. We would recommend citing some of the reasons above, particularly accessibility and latest-/back-issue access. We have found two effective methods:
- Citing public libraries’ limited resources (pretty hard for folks to argue with this one)
- Redirecting patrons to our remaining services (hoopla and Overdrive)
Two other important things to note: we will be making a separate announcement for the public later this quarter, and if any library has a direct link to Flipster on their website, please add a notice after October 1 that the service will be discontinued after Dec 31, 2022.
If you have any issues, concerns, complaints, or pretty pictures to send to the DRC, you can direct them to the co-chairs of the DRC: Hilary Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or Richelle Klug at email@example.com or if you have any questions about this specific article/email, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.