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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged iPad

Today’s security update for Apple’s iOS devices is a serious one:

One of the world’s most evasive digital arms dealers is believed to have been taking advantage of three security vulnerabilities in popular Apple products in its efforts to spy on dissidents and journalists.

(Emphasis mine.)

Basically, if you’re a journalist working for a national or international news organisation, update your iPhone or iPad as soon as you possibly can.

Using an iPad to prepare photos for the web

This article has me rethinking one of my core reasons for not using my iPad for more blogging:

I’ve pretty much stopped importing and editing images on my Mac. Though I didn’t expect it, the iPad provides me with an easier and quicker workflow for posting hero images on iMore than my Mac ever did.

Basically, while we were all looking elsewhere, the iPad got really good at moving files between applications. And, for some tasks, it’s now better than the Mac.

My predictions for the relationship between magazine publishers and iPads five years ago:

  • Companies will seize on the magazine-like form factor and the “book replication” iBooks interface to build what are, in effect, straight replications of print titles on the platform
  • They will add the sort of “interactive” extra elements that made CD-ROMs such a compelling experience back in the 90s (please note: that was sarcasm).
  • Readers will try them out, find the experience unfulfilling, and return to just using the web via the browser on the device.
  • As HTML5 takes off, the web experience will accelerate away from the print one, leaving all but the most innovative, up-market print titles on the steady spiral into oblivion.

I was almost completely correct. And it feels really shitty.

The Magazine

Interesting insight into The Magazine and its (previously unknown, I believe) near-death experience:

Having a “built-in audience” from a 5by5 show, Tumblr, Instapaper, and Marco.org didn’t sustain The Magazine. I sold it because it was cratering under my ownership and losing subscribers alarmingly quickly. I was about to shut it down, but Glenn wanted to try running it, so I sold it to him for much less than you’d probably assume.

It’s often cited by people – myself included – as an interesting experiment with a subcompact magazine format on the iPad. The fact that, after a successful start, it nearly failed is eye-opening. The reason? Marco makes it pretty plain:

The Magazine under my leadership was subjectless, unfocused, and irrelevant to most of my audience.

Under Glenn Fleishman, it seems to have prospered. No matter how good the tech, you still need a skilled editor…

[Update]: A response from The Magazine suggests that the situation was more nuanced that perhaps Marco’s post suggested (to me, at least):

Re-reading Marco’s post with that correction in mind suggests that he was considering closing it because subscriptions were falling (which he considered a failure), not because it was about to become unprofitable. That’s a distinct difference.

The Loop on iPad

While we’re on the topic of iPad magazine apps:

We in the publishing game have a name for this phenomenon – we call it “shovelware”. We used to use the term to describe the way we just took our print copy and shoveled it onto the web – a phase that, thankfully, most publishing businesses have moved beyond. However, the arrival of the iPad has given us the opportunity to get that ol’ shovel back out of the box, and shovel our magazines straight into a new form.

Oh, make no mistake, this has been made very easy for us. Adobe – amongst others – has given us tools to take our magazines and shove them onto the iPad with just a few clicks. And publishers have been doing this with abandon – if limited commercial success. Now wonder: this is shovelware 2.0, and it will be just as damaging to our businesses in the long term as its 1990s version was.

That’s somebody called “Adam Tinworth”, writing in InPublishing.

And then he goes on to describe a magazine app that’s really good. I think you’ll enjoy it…

iPad Newsstand

David Jacobs of 29th Street Publishing talking about magazine apps:

What we have learned is that the replica will never be successful. Consumers have soundly rejected them: digital subscriptions make up only 3% of total subscriptions. But I am of course optimistic about the future of magazine apps, since the industry has an opportunity for a reboot. There is a challenge (and an opportunity) since the mainstream conception of a magazine app is what amounts to a photo gallery of pages of a magazine, with the occasional widget or animation. But that’s not a transformation that is going to happen overnight.

Why did it all go so wrong? Joe Zeff of Joe Zeff Design, an app studio, is direct:

It’s easy to blame Adobe DPS for the spate of lookalike magazines; instead, I blame the publishers. They blindly followed AAM née ABC guidelines and created digital magazines that were hardly different from print. They prioritized customer retention over customer acquisition and focused on rate base expansion instead of new product development. They have failed to excite advertisers, blaming weak CPM numbers that could be strengthened by aggregating audiences through networks.

In short, rather than prioritising creating greta customer experiences, the magazine industry prioritised protecting its own business model and workflows – with appalling results.

The whole iPad Magazine roundtable at Newmanology is well worth a read – as it gets right to the heart of the challenges and opportunities of this format.

Country Walking on iPad

Just came across this explanation of why hobby magazines no longer have broad appeal, by a former editor of various outdoor magazine titles:

So why does someone with a long-term background in outdoor magazine publishing suddenly become bored with them? Probably for the same reason I haven’t bought a newspaper in a couple of years. I now get all the information, news and inspiration I need, things that I used to get from papers and magazines, from the Internet.

Websites like this one, social media and a handful of blogs serve my purposes these days, and they are all free. You also don’t need to chop down an Amazonian rain forest to provide the paper…

And that’s the challenge to traditional consumer publishing, in a nutshell. The problem with publishing for enthusiasts is that, now that publishing tools are widely available, enthusiasts are more likely to publish. And free, expert material from people publishing for the love of it will trump paid, journalistic material published by people who are doing it for money.

This is a terrible time to be a non-expert journalist.

Ironically enough, I found that post through a really bad review of one magazine’s attempt to go digital:

“The app is rubbish though. It’s basically the world’s simplest PDF viewer with no features to make use of technology – no links, no bookmarking, no navigation, no notes or annotation – just a bunch of pages you can only view linearly. Almost completely pointless.”

5* for the mag, 1* for the app.

I can’t help but wonder if some magazine are actually sabotaging their own futures by doing half-hearted shovelware tablet editions.

Adobe Creative Cloud
As I said in my last post, the disruptor can be disrupted

Henry Taylor, writing for the MediaBriefing:

Design and business title Katachi magazine is an example of doing it yourself if the tools aren’t available to you. Founder and editor, Ken Olling, spent 3 years creating Origami Engine – InDesign-inspired software built purely for touch experiences:

We started with the idea of a magazine but very quickly realised there wasn’t anything out there built for touch. InDesign is a great product for print but it’s the wrong tool for the mobile medium.

Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite, which sits atop InDesign to produce tablet editions is a clumsy process that creates clunky results. This, coupled with resistance from some customers to the shift to a software rental model though Creative Cloud, makes it feel like the chink in InDesign’s armour…