August 28, 2013 Last Updated 12:23 pm

Italian camera magazine publisher delivers replicas, get reader complaints, but mostly about bugs

A publisher tweeted me just yesterday to observe that the vast majority of reader reviews inside the Apple Newsstand are either one-star or five-star. There is not much subtlety when it comes to people’s views – they either love you or hate you.

Publishers generally complain about the readers who download their apps, then complain that they have to actually pay to access the issues, as if magazines should be free simply because they are digital.

In the U.S. App Store, and more and more in other stores, readers are voicing their displeasure with replica editions, or at least with expensive replicas. The problem, of course, is that readers are increasingly comparing titles against each other and seeing the interactive magazines as more interesting, easier to read.

But this is not universally true. In India, for instance, where Magzter dominates, replicas are most definitely the norm. This is also true of Italy.

Sprea Editori spa well over 20 Newsstand apps for the iPad, is solidly in the replica column. What makes this worth noting, though, is that many of their titles one would assume would have long ago adopted a native tablet publishing solution because they are photography or computer magazines. Tech magazines are natural native tablet candidates because of interactivity. But many photography magazines – both established titles from major publishers, and new tablet-only launches – have chose to reformat their titles due to the possibility of slideshows or landscape layouts.

ItalianCameraMags-lgDigital Camera Italy, Photo Professional and Professional Photoshop Italia are all PDF driven and have recently been updated, so a move to a more interactive format can not be expected any time soon.

So how do Italian readers feel about these digital editions (or more accurately, what are they saying about the inside the App Store)? Well, they don’t hate them, for the most part. In fact, they are pretty much willing to rate them as either a one-star, two-star, three-star, four-star or five-star product. Either Italians are more discriminating when it comes to digital editions, or they are more confused.

While one reader gave one of the magazines a one-star review because he expected more than a simple PDF, most readers who complained did so because of bugs that prevented them from downloading their digital issues. The five-star reviews generally talked about the magazine, in general.

It is very difficult to get a handle on the number of iPads owned in Italy. Apple gives very precise numbers when it comes to overall sales, but only breaks out sales performance in more general terms geographically. The recent Samsung trial forced Apple to reveal its US versus International sales, but that was only through the third quarter of 2012, and again the numbers only broke out the US from the rest of the world.

Apple has 14 retail stores in Italy, so it would be curious to see the numbers, but the studies I have seen consistently put Italy in the middle of the pack in Europe – behind the UK and France, but ahead of both Germany and Spain when it comes to tablet ownership. It is interesting, therefore, to note that many very, very good native tablet editions are coming out of the UK and Germany, while Italy remains pretty solidly in the replica school of app making.

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