August 15, 2013 Last Updated 1:19 pm

The Adcom Group launches ID8 Nation Magazine as individual apps inside the 3 major app stores

Back in June of 2010, what seems like a million years ago now, the first tablet-only magazine was launched by a company from Cleveland called Sideways. That company was founded by Charles Stack, the founder of Books.com (which was sold eventually to Barnes & Noble). Other magazines for the iPad had been launched before Sideways, but each had either a print or online equivalent.

ID8-Cover-iPad-sm“We’re really interested in experimenting with the form, what this medium wants to be when it grows up,” Stack told me in the early summer of 2010. “The iPad medium wants to be something, like when sculptures talk about letting the sculpture out of the wood. It’s the same kind of model, we’re trying to figure out what this hardware platform is really good at, or best at.”

Four issues of Sideways were produced before the effort was abandoned.

Jim Sweeney, a newspaper editor who had also worked at Penton, was the editor of Sideways. Sweeney contacted me yesterday to tell me to check out the magazine he is editing now, ID8 Nation.

ID8 Nation Magazine is definitely a major step forward. The app uses the Adobe DPS platform to build stand-alone apps that will work on both the iPad and iPhone (though the iPhone version is not designed for the iPhone 5 and only the first issue can be found in the app’s library). The price is set at $1.99, which seems fair.

The digital issues are very well designed, with pages that scroll within the article, plenty of video material, both embedded and externally housed.

There are some long form stories here, so readers will not complain about being short changed.

Each issue is focused on an individual city with the latest issue on San Diego, the previous is on Pittsburgh. The magazine is supported by The Kauffman Foundation and is centered around entrepreneurship. Whether business people in other cities will find the editorial interesting enough to download multiple issues will be the editorial challenge of the digital publication.

While the iOS app contains both issues, with the app costing $1.99, the Google Play version is done as two separate apps. This is also the way it is done for Amazon.com.

The decision to go with a stand-alone app would make more sense inside the Apple App Store if each city were done as a separate app. I can understand avoiding the Newsstand – Apple has made a royal mess of it there, allowing some developers to spam the digital newsstand with bogus, fake magazines, while not giving readers a search mechanism that helps them find what they want. But I would think that the real goal here would be to attract readers interested in the individual cities so creating individual apps might make more sense.

But who knows for sure, three years in we may be finding ourselves back where we started. In 2010 one wondered whether readers would buy an iPad and whether they would use it read magazines. By 2011 and into 2012 we thought that question had been answered with the large numbers of iPad sales and the introduction of the Newsstand. But now it’s 2013 and we are hearing publishers openly complain about the disaster the Newsstand is turning into.

(Peter Houston of Flipping Pages hears the criticism, and outright panic of publishers but thinks the platform simply needs more time. I think he is right that the platform needs more time, but it also needs major changes such as cleaner, better organized newsstands that are searchable.)

But one thing every tablet or mobile publisher should know is how to write and design a good app description. The description for ID8 Nation doesn’t cut it as there is only one screenshot used and the description too short in the Apple App Store.

On the other hand, the Amazon.com listing is great with plenty of screenshots – the same is true for Google Play.

Maybe this was a conscious decision, one to treat Apple’s store as simply another outlet rather than the primary one. If so, maybe this will become more of a trend as publishers give up on the iOS ecosystem. Sales numbers don’t seem to support this viewpoint, but things are changing. For proof, just compare this new digital magazine to those from the summer of 2010.


Here is a short walk-through the San Diego issue of ID8 Nation Magazine.

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