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.

Newsweek for iPad Introduces Subscriptions

It’s about time! Newsweek has just updated its iPad app to introduce subscriptions, which means that we’re finally seeing some interesting pricing on iPad magazines. Newsweek was already offering cheaper prices than the competition at $3 per issue (the Time Inc. weeklies are all $5 an issue), but with the two new available subscription options things are getting VERY cheap. Right now you can get a 12-week subscription for $10, so 80 cents an issue, or a 24-week subscription for $15, at about 60 cents an issue.

The only thing for me is that I’d much rather read Time at this price, but I’ll probably buy at least one issue of Newsweek to sample it. I do hope that subscription options start popping up more though — over to you Condé Nast and Time Inc.

Coasting on 30,000

The sort of big news today in the digital publishing world — although not entirely surprising — is that Wired creative director Scott Dadich has left the magazine to focus entirely on his other gig, that of leading parent company Condé Nast’s digital publishing development.

But the most interesting thing to come out of the announcement (via MagCulture) is that we find out how well Wired has been selling on iPad after that initial blockbuster release — to recap, on its first month it sold 100,000 copies, which is well over the magazine’s average 76,000 in print. Since then, it has settled at around 30,000 copies per month, which is not bad at all.

I do hope we start getting digital circulation numbers for other magazines, because right now it’s hard to say what is working and what isn’t when you don’t really know the level of mainstream acceptance (i.e. sales) titles are getting.

Portrait Is Winning Over Landscape

At least according to a survey done by Condé Nast on what the preferred reading position is on iPad. From Folio (via Magtastic Blogsplosion):

Condé Nast also noted that users preferred to read the magazines in portrait mode, but to watch video in landscape.

Not that this is particularly surprising — when interacting with a digital magazine, it’s natural to read it like you would in print — but this just gives more publishers an excuse to forego support for dual modes. And something else to come out of the survey (and something I keep harping about):

Not surprising, the publisher said there also was an expectation among users for flexibility in buying options, including a single copy purchase, a digital subscription or supplement to their print subscription.

I know that the lack of progression on this point is really due to Apple, but let’s hope that something happens sooner than later, because now’s the time to hook a lot of readers — from an already generous pool of 8 million iPad owners — who are excited about all these new digital publications, but are maybe turned off by the high prices.

The New Yorker on iPad

The big news in the digital magazine world this week is of course the release of Conde Nast’s The New Yorker app. It was designed by the same team behind the Wired magazine app — creative director Scott Dadich is in fact now in charge of bringing all of the publisher’s stable of titles to iPad.

The first thing I’ll suggest is that you take a look at Jeremy’s great write-up over at MagCulture — he also posts the terrific video intro produced for the launch, directed by Roman Coppola and starring Jason Schwartzman.

In terms of my experience with the magazine so far (I’m not yet done going through it), it started out badly with a crash as I tried to play a video from the front cover that is supposed to show that cover being drawn. No matter how many times I exited and re-entered the app, it would just show the video screen, and I couldn’t get back to anything else. After deleting the app and re-installing it, and then re-downloading the issue, I was able to start reading the magazine, but that video still refuses to play for me.

As Jeremy mentions in his review, what you get here is very similar to the interface used in the Wired app (menu functions are all the same), and the biggest change lies in the page design, which is much more simple — in keeping with the source material — with text that is less formatted as well (columns of text run down until they’re done, not necessarily at the bottom of the page).

It also uses free scrolling more than in Wired, where you only see it in the table of contents and credits page at the end. As I’ve said before, I’d really prefer if they just kept to the page scrolling, which I rather like — maybe in part because it feels more magazine-y to me.

It was interesting to see a bit of live content appear in the magazine. Pictured above, you see that “This Just In” section is made up of tweets with updated event information. Even Wired hasn’t included any live content yet.

Looking at the ads, The New Yorker app introduces another first for the Conde Nast interface, and that’s the inclusion of ads within an article, as you scroll down — so far the Wired app has kept ads to themselves, in-between articles.

I also had to share the ad pictured above, for a Russian magazine I’ve never heard of, with a title I have no idea how to pronounce, but that I now want to read. What a great tagline!

My biggest gripe right now is the pricing, which is $5. I’m sure they decided to charge more than they do for Wired ($4) because they don’t expect to get the same sales numbers, but I think a lot of people are going to be turned off by the price, especially for a weekly, and especially with so much of the content being city-centric (it did make me want to make a move to New York though, I’ll give them that).

Let me end this with one of the comic strips (above) found inside. The joke for me and my wife is that our dog has escaped from his cage so many times that we’ve given him the nickname Houdini, and so you can imagine how much of a chuckle I got when I saw that strip.

Vogue Hommes Japan

So far things have been relatively quiet on the magazine front when it comes to major releases on the iPad, and we’ve been mostly limited to Dentsu’s MAGASTORE, which is basically a Japanese version of Zinio, with the same functionality (but none of the “enchanced” media functionality that is popping up more and more in Zinio releases). Although Vogue Hommes Japan may not be the first stand-alone Japanese app magazine to hit the iTunes Store, it’s one of the most notable. So what do we end up getting?

Again, this is another examples of something that comes closer to a PDF-like Zinio reader than anything on the Wired/Popular Science end of the spectrum. Some notable differences are that touchable areas are immediately “highlighted” by a glowing colored box (see above), which blinks for a few seconds after loading the page. These links either lead to another page in the magazine, or open a slide show showing photo or video ads.

Other than that, it’s pretty much a page-per-page copy of the original print edition, that you zoom in to read. The app works on iPad and iPhone, with a similar interface on both. It should be noted that turning to a new page often takes a second or two for loading.

The one thing that I did quite like is that on the store page for each issue (Vol. 4 and 5 are currently available) there are two buttons: One to buy (issues are $4) and one labeled tachiyomi. That preview button brings you to a good size preview, about 15-20 pages or so, and it’s something I’d really like to see more magazine apps use. Sure, more and more of these apps are including a free issue to sample, and other apps have preview buttons that give you a detailed table of contents (like Time), but the preview functionality in the Vogue app goes as far as letting you see the first page of any article that you link to (from the real table of contents for instance).

Conde Nast Publications Japan has also launched Vogue Nippon, using the exact same app structure.