Losing Your Edge

This is the lost post I referred to recently, which to my surprise suddenly popped up again in my draft folder, and so I’ve decided to share it as is, along with a little update at the end.

The Magaziner returns. Sorta.

In recent weeks, I’ve been feeling the itch to bring back The Magaziner in one form or another – and for those of you who have no idea what I’m referring to, it’s a site I ran that was dedicated to the love of magazines, with a slight focus on digital titles/editions. Problem is, earlier this year I let the original domain expire – I did check to see if it was still available, but it wasn’t.

Oh well.

But, I still feel like sounding off on magazines again, since my love for the medium is still strong, and so – for now – I’ll just do it here in the form of irregular posts.

Let’s talk about Edge magazine, and its new digital strategy as of its latest issue.

First off, Edge is what I would describe as the best and smartest magazine out there covering the world of games. It covers the medium in all seriousness, and is a publication that is read by many in the industry. It’s published in the UK through Future. I’ve been reading it for years – can’t quite remember what my first issue was – and although I used to buy it in print (at a ridiculous price from a shop in Tokyo’s Akihabara district), when they launched a proper iPad edition – and by this I mean a digital edition formatted for iPad, that they described as an “interactive” edition – that’s how I continued reading it. As of the latest issue, that “interactive” edition is no more.

What has happened is that what you get now is basically a glorified PDF version of the print edition, with a few highlighted links to look up a gallery of screenshots or to watch a video. On iPads designed for mortals (i.e. not the new iPad Pro), this means that you can’t read the text in regular page view, and so need to constantly zoom in and out of pages. Oh, and now it won’t even save your spot when you’re reading, so every time you come back to the issue, you’re at the front page, and need to manually find your spot again.

Why revert back to such a primitive edition? I’m sure it was a business decision, not wanting to absorb the cost of designing that iPad edition, but not only does it leave us with a fantastically unsatisfying reading experience, they haven’t even lowered the cost of the digital edition.

The content itself is still great – in the latest issue I really enjoyed the interview with Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata, the profile of Square Enix’s new RPG Factory studio, and the piece on adventure game studio Revolution Software, but because of the awful reading experience, I found myself skimming over most of it.

I’ve already cancelled my digital subscription, and I don’t expect I’ll be buying the print edition as it’s not readily available here, and would cost import prices if I did find a copy. If I am still able to read some of it, it will be because the studio where I work subscribes to it.

Update: Since I wrote this, to my dismay, another one of my regular magazine reads has followed the same route, and it’s even worse than with Edge. As of its latest issue (with Star Wars on the cover), Rolling Stone has done the same thing, getting rid of its iPad-formatted interactive design and instead releasing a PDF-like replication of the print edition. But what’s worse is that it’s even more unreadable than Edge, because you can’t even zoom in on the pages, and so if you find the text to be too tiny to read, tough luck. I immediately cancelled my subscription, but really, I’m just shocked to see a backward trend like this of giving up on digital editions. I’m sure it’s all driven by sales and cost cutting (not wanting to invest in designing a separate edition), but it is having the effect of making me leave those titles, since I’m not interested in the print editions (I only like print magazines if they use nice paper, have a special format, etc.)

SCROLL

I don’t usually write about magazines here – I do that over at The Magaziner – but I did really want to recommend the latest issue (10) of the self-published video game magazine SCROLL. It’s a fantastic look back at the Boku no Natsuyasumi (My Summer Vacation) series. As I wrote the other day, I absolutely loved playing Attack of the Friday Monsters, which is by the same creator, and also goes for that same “nostalgic adventure” vibe. I read this issue from cover to cover last night and this morning, and it just made me want to play those Boku no Natsuyasumi games even more. Come on Sony, get this series localized in English, and release them all on Vita, a perfect platform for these.

The Magaziner

I gotta say I’m getting a kick out of this: In the past 24 hours I conceived of a site, a name, bought the domain, got it working, installed WordPress, imported posts from this site, found a theme that I modded to my liking, and have now launched my latest project, something I’m calling The Magaziner. What’s a magaziner you ask? Here’s my made-up answer:

We hereby define a new term, that of the magaziner, described as a person who exerts an unhealthy amount of love for all things magazine. The Magaziner is a site that mostly focuses on the intersection between magazines and the digital frontier, and what it means for the medium. This does not preclude the inclusion of a healthy amount of print love.

It all started last night when I was reading a comment on Facebook by Craig Mod, who suggested that all of the magazine-related coverage I’ve been doing over the past couple of months is getting lost within the rest of what I post here. I think he made a good point — and god knows I have a lot of respect and admiration for what he’s accomplished over the past year or so — and so I decided to launch a new site that would be exclusively for all of the magazine stuff. Expect the same kind of coverage you’ve been seeing here — commentary, news, new release announcements, reviews — that weighs heavily on the emerging digital side of the magazine publishing industry, something I’m quite passionate about (although I do still love my lovely print publications, thank you very much).

So this site returns to being a hub for news on me and all of my various projects, which on top of The Magaziner includes Codex, my new weekly music podcast, Radio OK Fred, SNOW Magazine, PauseTalk, and other fun stuff. Hope you’ll continue to follow what I’m up to here, and if you really enjoyed the magazine coverage, then please head on over to The Magaziner — and you can of course subscribe to an RSS feed. There’s a Twitter account too (@the_magaziner) that I’ll be using to post magazine-related news as well.

Oh, and one more thing about The Magaziner, please consider this a beta version of the site. As I said at the top of this post, it all came together rather fast, so over the coming weeks I’m sure I’ll be changing things here and there, fixing things I missed, and maybe coming up with new features or sections to add.

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.

Still Can’t Download Wired in Background

Well this is disappointing. One of the things I was most looking forward to with the 4.2 iOS firmware update for iPad was the addition of multitasking, and therefore the ability to download stuff — like gigantic issues of Wired — in the background. Sorry folks, switching to another app after you start the download simply pauses it, waiting for you to return. Come on Wired, fix this. And if you’re wondering, this month’s issue clocks in at 351MB, so we’re on a downward trend in terms of size at least.

Edit 2010

Jeremy attended — and participated in — last week’s “Edit 2010” magazine publishing event in Warsaw, and includes a nice round-up of what was covered, especially on the Adobe digital tools front.

Pictured, an earlier issue of Gym Class Magazine that was on display as part of a magazine exhibition. Make sure to pick up the latest issue!

TOO MUCH Launch Party

Last night marked the official launch of TOO MUCH magazine at HAPPA gallery in Nakameguro, and man was it ever fun. Such a terrific gathering of people, and everyone seemed really happy to see Editions OK FRED finally be in the magazine business again.

Although it still doesn’t appear to be for sale online, it should be soon enough, and I’m sure you’ll be spotting it in Tokyo’s better bookstores. At the event they were also selling a separate pamphlet that features Japanese translations of all the articles (remember, unlike the bilingual OK FRED magazine, TOO MUCH is English-only).

Above, the two creators of the magazine, Ay2 and Yoshi (and of course, my fellow Radio OK FRED co-hosts), and just behind the glass you see Cameron as well, who edited the issue.

Eureka on iPad

I’ve been meaning to do a write-up on The TimesiPad version of its monthly Eureka science magazine for way too long now, and please don’t think that it’s because I don’t think it’s good. In fact — and as Jeremy also quite plainly stated in his review — quite the contrary, as I think it’s one of the best iPad magazine releases so far.

What’s especially impressive is that I find this magazine to be interesting even though I normally would not be inclined to pick up a magazine about science. But Eureka on iPad does so many cool things with the digital format that it’s worth picking up for that fact alone — and it’s ridiculous not too, since it’s also priced at a mere $1.

It all kicks off with a graphically pleasing table of contents that lets you quickly zoom into the different sections of the magazine, using an atomic structure-like layout that suits the theme perfectly. You can also move around to different sections with a pop-up guide on the bottom, which is similar to the ones used in the Times iPad app, but with a graphical touch up.

It also does an amazing job of using imagery to enhance articles, and as with more and more iPad magazines these days (and to be fair, it was something I first saw in the Times app), it uses the landscape mode for extra content, like detailed slideshows and the like. I wonder why so many UK-based publications are doing this, but so far it’s not really happening on the US side.

Without going into too many details, let’s just say that you’ll find beautiful layouts and fun interactive features throughout, and so it’s well worth picking for a look at what a true graphic-heavy iPad magazine can look like (as opposed to the farce that is the New York Magazine app). Sure, there are still certain issues — still no text manipulation, and no sharing tools — but there’s still a lot to like, and as I said earlier, at $1 you can certainly check it out for yourself.

Esquire Too Sexy for iTunes App Store?

Remember when there was a lot of ruckus around Apple’s decision to start refusing apps they deemed too sexy for the App Store? Well, now it’s hitting iPad editions of mainstream magazines, as it appears that the reason it’s taken so long for the latest issue of Esquire to come out on iPad — the “Sexiest Woman Alive 2010” issue — is because of said sexiness. The inclusion of this video of Minka Kelly was too hot for Apple?

The issue is now out on the App Store, but no word on what was censored or removed in order to get it approved. Certainly doesn’t make me want to get it (nevermind that I wouldn’t pick it up anyway, since I still think $5 is too much of an asking price). (via @twitsplosion)

Little White Lies is Tronerific

Beautiful cover for the new issue of Little White Lies, which of course is the Tron: Legacy issue — and here’s also a gallery of every cover. Don’t know Little White Lies? It’s by far the best movie magazine out there, with each issue focusing on one movie. You can even read issues for free through Issuu, but I’d happily pay for a nice iPad edition.

One thing that has been bugging me though is that it changed its logo recently, and although everyone seems to celebrate this change, I have to say I preferred the old one.