INSP access card

The INSP access card for digital editions

Credit: INSP

The International Network of Street Papers is to launch a new digital papers scheme later this year which will give customers the choice of either purchasing a regular print copy of papers, or instead a printed card featuring a QR code from which they can use to download a digital edition.

According to a release the initiative was prompted by a desire to move the street papers "concept into the 21st century" with the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) taking to crowdfunding website Kickstarter today to help raise revenue to fund a pilot scheme with The Big Issue in the North in Manchester due for a July launch. The scheme will also be launched with StreetWise in Chicago.

At the time of writing $105 of its $5,000 goal had been pledged on Kickstarter, with donors offered rewards such as a personalised thank you tweet from INSP and the inclusion of the donor's name on an online supporters wall for pledges of $5, to an offer of bringing the digital initiative to the town of donors who pledge $5000, as well as "free access to the digital magazines for the duration of the pilot and your name on our online supporters wall".

The new digital offering will be available for the same price as the print edition of the papers, with customers able to buy either the printed paper or access card from the vendor, in order to "retain the crucial vendor-buyer contact on the streets".

The access card will feature a QR code "which can be scanned or entered onto smartphones, tablets or desktop computers".

According to INSP the scheme will be piloted in the summer and "if successful, the digital technology will be made available to all 122 street papers in the INSP network".

"With more than six million readers and 12,000 vendors globally, they provide a powerful platform for unheard voices," INSP executive director Lisa Maclean said in a release.

"In fact, we believe this project has the potential to become not only one of the world's largest paid digital media platforms, but one of the most important, too."

This comes as the Big Issue launched its 1,000th issue and reaches its 21st year. In an interview with editor Paul McNamee spoke about the value of the internet to the title, "to sell the magazine, to raise awareness and build interest and get advocates for the magazine".

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