Texture vs. Magzter

A few months ago I wrote in jest that magazines are dead. They were sorta getting like that for me at least — with my digital-first lifestyle and reading habit, I was getting more and more frustrated by what was being offered in terms of proper iPad-formatted magazine editions.

And then I gave in.

Many a time have I bemoaned the PDF-like formatted magazines being offered by publishers — meaning, just taking your print edition and releasing it as is for iPad, which means constantly having to zoom in and out of pages to read the text. But the thing is, I really like reading magazines, and while it still wasn’t enough to make me want to seek out print editions (I buy one print magazine monthly, and that’s Monocle), I did decide to bite the bullet and test out a couple of “all-you-can-eat” digital magazine services — luckily, both services offer a free 1 month trial, so there’s nothing to lose in trying them out.

I’d seen Texture mentioned a few times, and the app looked slick, so I started with that. What’s great with Texture, is that although most of the titles on offer are PDF-like, the ones that do have proper iPad-formatted editions are actually included this — which is the case for a lot (if not all) of Conde Nast titles, like Wired and The New Yorker. The selection on offer is comprised of the majority of big titles out there. At $15 a month (for a subscription that not only gives you access to all titles, but also to all archives of each title) it seemed like it would be the more expensive option.

Magzter is the better known service — I’d heard it mentioned by a few people — and includes quite a lot more titles. That expanded inventory is a bit moot though, as the majority is made up of pretty much anything under the sun, and mostly international offerings that I have no interest in. But the worst thing here is that after I signed up for the free month (for the service that is $10 a month I think), I quickly realized that it doesn’t include access to most of the titles I’d want to read (and individual title subscriptions are not cheap). The one magazine that was part of that price tier — and also isn’t present in Texture — is gaming magazine Edge, which I used to read religiously but stopped when they turned their digital edition into the PDF-like model. What I did end up doing during that month was voraciously read through most of the issues I had missed (in the past year) before my free trial was up. I ended up falling in love with that magazine again —  with the intense reading getting me to a point where I guess I just accepted that zooming in/out is part of the process of reading these days, que sera sera — and so eventually subscribed again using Edge‘s standalone app.

The main result of this intense month of trial of these two services (back in August/September) was that, well, I fell in love again with reading a great number of titles, and so at the end I decided to keep my subscription to Texture, and I’ve been gorging myself on titles ever since — and since this is buffet-serving, I don’t feel bad about going through some titles in mostly browse mode, just reading bits here and there.

I’d still like to include more indie offerings to my diet — which would be in print, and tends to bust the wallet more — but I’m at least happy to find myself in a magazine reading mode that I haven’t found myself in for years (not since I ran The Magaziner, a website I used to share my musings about magazines).

Vegeo Vegeco

I absolutely love the simple design of the new Vegeo Vegeco shop — and no wonder, since it was designed by Masamichi Katayama. The company behind it started by selling produce from the Kyushu region online, and now on top of this physical store (in Tokyo’s Nezu neighborhood), they also offer an app called Vegery for quick deliveries in areas of Tokyo. This is the kind of thing that would make me eat my greens more. More details in this Spoon & Tamago post.

PechaKucha of the Day

I’m so happy to see this come out, a PechaKucha app! It’s a super simple idea, to have an app that shares a new PechaKucha presentation each day, and having played with it for a bit, it does just as advertised, with minimum fuss. I especially like the portrait images used for that day’s presentation (you can also scroll down to watch previous presentations). Give it a download, it’s free! And here are more details form the latest PechaKucha global newsletter.

Design Talks Plus

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I recently discovered a really great show on NHK World called Design Talks Plus. Each episode covers a different aspect of design, with a main guest who talks on the subject — for the recent episode on “Icons,” the guest was noted creative director Kashiwa Sato. The latest episode is a good one too, looking at the urban renewal currently happening in Shibuya, and includes an interview with artist Akira Yamaguchi, whose art I’ve always really loved (and I used to have an awesome t-shirt with his art on it, that I wore to death).

I watch NHK World through its app on Apple TV, and although it’s great that you can watch past episodes on-demand, they unfortunately only seem to share the last 2 episodes, and I’d really love to watch the rest of the series.

Nintendo Monthly iPhone Wallpapers

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I use the Line app once a month, and for the exact same reason every time: to check the new messages from the official Japanese Nintendo account, for the purpose of downloading the new iPhone calendar wallpaper it shares each month. Pictured above, the wallpapers we’ve gotten for July, August, and September (which is now adorning my iPhone lock screen, a bit ahead of schedule). I absolutely love these.

Salyu x Salyu

I’ll be honest, I haven’t been excited about any music coming out of Japan in quite a while, but as I mentioned in that quick post on the new episode of Codex, I am absolutely in love with the new album by Salyu (using the name “Salyu x Salyu”), s(o)un(d)beams, produced by Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada). It’s basically like getting a new Cornelius record, but an inspired one (something I did not feel with 2006’s Sensuous).

Here is a video for the first single from the album, but even better is to experience it using the Chrome Music Mixer (and here’s another video that sort of replicates the same effect). There’s also an iPhone app music visualizer based on the album.

Digital as Expensive as Print to Produce?

To produce? Maybe for the content itself (although for the most part, content is shared between the two), but one of the biggest selling points for going digital is to save on printing costs and distribution. I do still have problems with some of the points this piece from Forbes brings up though on the content production side of things. I get that producing videos for a digital edition adds costs, but the idea that including more photos in the digital edition also raises costs is ridiculous — we’re just getting to see more from a shoot, the parts that usually end up on the cutting room floor.

The question of bandwidth could be an issue, but really, is there actually an alternative to releasing magazines for the iPad than through the iTunes App Store? The article gives Zinio as an example, suggesting that all magazines sold through that device are doing it through its own servers. Is Apple really not getting any cut from sales that are done through the iPad app though? If so, then I guess we can expect to see the release of a Conde Nast (or Time, Inc., etc.) app, that will house all of its magazines.

Update: A reader suggests that the point about the photos is not so ridiculous, considering that most photographers are paid for each photo published. I assumed they were paid for the shoots.

Bonnier’s News+

Bonnier’s Mag+ — a concept for a magazine on tablet — was all the rage when it came out earlier this year, and now Bonnier follows that up with another new concept, News+, this time presenting what a daily newspaper could look like on iPad. Again, some really interesting ideas here, and I’m wondering how closely the upcoming Daily digital newspaper from Apple and Rupert Murdoch will come to looking like this. (via Cédric Riveau)