The Next Web to launch first digital magazine to use the new Prss publishing platform

TNW Magazine to be rebranded as SHIFT with the move to a new platform

The Next Web is launching a new digital magazine this afternoon, one that uses the new Prss digital publishing platform, the company confirmed to TNM. The web property’s current iPad-only, TNW Magazine, has been heavily promoted by Apple within its App Store. Prss is the platform developed by the team behind the popular travel photography magazine TRVL. While TRVL is currently built on an earlier version of the platform, the new digital magazine will be using the version that will be offered to other publishers.

Shift-iPad-lgThe new tablet edition publishing effort is being released as SHIFT by TNM, and will be launched into the Apple Newsstand this afternoon (now live and in the Newsstand).

The Next Web will likely be previewing its new quarterly magazine at the TNW Conference currently being held in New York, as the agenda has left an opening at 2:30 EDT this afternoon for what it says will be “a sneak preview on the future of magazines.” Undoubtedly this will be the opportunity for Prss to demo their platform publicly for the first time. (The Prss website is also teasing the event on its website.)

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten confirmed to Talking New Media that the technology news website would be using the new tablet magazine platform and will be moving once again to a paid subscription model.

“We started out paid, then moved to free, and now are moving back to paid again,” Van Zanten said.

“The digital magazine space is very exciting and there are no set rules for what works and what doesn’t yet. I’m comfortable with trying things out and changing my mind every now and then. With the relaunch of our magazine I felt like experimenting with the revenue model again, so we are trying out a quarterly edition now, for a small fee. If we see enough subscribers we might start publishing monthly again. To me digital magazines are like the first automobiles; they often feel like a carriage with an engine attached. It is way cooler than a horse powered carriage, but we also feel like this is just the first step. I enjoy being a part of that revolution and think we all need to keep an open mind on what is going to work and what isn’t.”

The new platform TNW will be using looks very much like iBooks Author in that it is native to the iPad and uses drop and drag and other elements like Apple’s eBook solution. Having demoed the platform one can see that the digital publishing solution is very much geared to those publications that are not being completely guided in their design by their existing print product.

“We worked with Mag+ for almost 2 years and it is an amazingly powerful and cool service,” Van Zanten said. “But we also felt it was more aimed at publishers who are married to Adobe Indesign and are already publishing a paper version, and also want a digital version of their magazine. For that, and more, Mag+ is perfect. If you don’t have a paper publication and want to start from scratch Mag+ still works, but we were looking for something more flexible that was closer to online publishing.”

By launching as a new brand, TNW avoids having to reformat all the older issues and updating its previous Mag+ built Newsstand app. “It will be a separate brand from TNW but of course heavily promoted via our sites,” Van Zanten said.

Prss-website-tease-lg

The Prss website today teasing TNW NYC conference

Jochem Wijnands and Michel Elings, the founders of TRVL and Prss, started allowing publishers to sign up on the Prss website to become early beta testers of their software last December. TNW was one of those companies that signed up. Both the TRVL/Prss team and TNW are based in the Netherlands, making the move a logical and convenient one, as well.

“They were one of the first that signed up on Prss.com,” Elings told TNM. “They are very innovative and, therefore, they had to get on Prss.com. We learned a lot from their design team and I think in return they get an app that shows the future of publications.”

The Prss site has, until recently, given few details about the cost for the new publishing solution, but the revised site now states that the cost will be €0.05 per download, with no other fees attached to the system. Prss is also offering a partner program for those design firms that build digital editions for publishers and brands: €2,395 a year, though they are currently offering a 50 percent discount. “Your yearly term starts when our SDK is ready, planned in a couple of months,” the website advises.

When asked about what differences readers will see between the Prss platform and other publishing platforms, Elings said he hoped readers wouldn’t notice much of a difference from the outside.

“The funny thing is, I think and truly hope that people won’t notice a lot,” Elings said. “We have done amazing work in speed, tap and read, reliability, rendering, memory management, iCloud sync, preview length, update cycle, actions, ability to use lots of fonts, this list goes on and on.”

I feel like there is tremendous potential here, but I also think we haven’t found the golden recipe for success either. – Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

“My personal goal is to make print feel stupid,” Elings said. “First, we needed to get to the same level as print. Personally I think we’re almost there. But our developments are now going beyond what print could ever do. And that’s not just for print. What’s coming up in our roadmap will make all the others fade away. We have so much great stuff that no one else is doing, or could be doing because you have to solve so many problems before you can do it.”

For The Next Web, the iPad-only magazine acts as both a marketing vehicle for the website and the publisher’s events, but also an opportunity to experiment.

“I see it (SHIFT) as a very exciting experiment in digital publishing,” Van Zanten said. “I feel like there is tremendous potential here, but I also think we haven’t found the golden recipe for success either. I look forward to trying things out, experimenting with content, design and business models while keeping a close eye on what people enjoy. To experiment you need some revenue, of course. So that certainly is something I’m eager to a see work.”