August 26, 2013 Last Updated 10:22 am

Two colleges, two approaches to its alumni magazines on the iPad

For most publishers with existing print magazines, the lure of the tablet platform is the possibility of added circulation, reaching new readers, maintaining the rate bases. For brands, whether they are consumer packaged goods, or public institutions, reaching new readers is the paramount goal.

Universities also are using the Newsstand for outreach purposes and a comparison of two brand new Newsstand apps shows that, just publishers of consumer magazine titles, there are two basic approaches to the platform – replica and native.

Focus-ipad-1-lgFOCUS Magazine comes from Andrews University, a school that was founded as Battle Creek College. The magazine’s new Newsstand app, FOCUS Magazine App, is a replica edition and appears in the Newsstand under the developer account name of the vendor The AK Group LLC. The Redmond, Washington based company has only one other iPad app in the App Store, Voice of Hope – Kiev.

How these two entities hooked up is probably its own story, but the app is a perfect example of the choices some make to get their magazines into the Newsstand – outsource, go replica.

While I may argue about the merits of these choices if this were a commercial publisher, I would at least understand them. But at a university the choices seem very odd, indeed, considering that one of the options available would be to build the app as part of a class project as so many other colleges (and some high schools) have done.

UCONN Magazine has gone in the completely opposite direction. The Newsstand app appears under the university’s own developer account, and is a native tablet edition, built using the Adobe DPS.

Here the designers decided to reimagine the magazine and has designed the tablet edition in landscape.

UConn-iPad-lgWith a native digital publishing platform to work with the team was able to add elements that can only work on a tablet: an animated cover, scrolling text boxes, pop-up captions, native tablet navigation.

That is not to say that the design goes crazy, as some tablet magazines have been accused of. No, this is very well done.

From a publisher’s perspective, the big difference between the two products involves readability. The native tablet magazine has larger fonts and page designs that fit comfortably on the tablet’s display. The designers were able to use layers to create more interesting tablet pages. Credit here probably should go to the editor Stefanie Dion Jones, and the digital edition art director, Jordanna Hertz. Barry Costa is listed, too, as the digital design specialist.

UCONN Magazine is definitely one of the best alumni magazines I have seen to date and a good model for other universities wishing to see what they can do themselves.

Both magazines are free to download and access – and because replicas are so much easier to produce, FOCUS Magazine comes with a series of archived issues in addition to the latest issue. UCONN Magazine, having to reformat and redesign itself to create a native tablet edition, currently only offers the latest edition inside its app’s store. While FOCUS’s latest issue weighs in at 17.4 MB, the native app from UCONN is 233 MB in size.

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