Nomad Magazine defines the Wild West character of the Apple Newsstand and the issue of discoverability
The Apple Newsstand contains so many odd, and sometimes wonderful, digital publications that one might think that Apple has created the perfect marketplace for publishers. But unlike a gumbo, where are the ingredients blend together to create something great, the Newsstand is simply a mess – a place where great new magazines go to die, while fly-by-night ripoff artists get can play games with readers by offering one thing, then selling another – all with Apple’s apparent permission, and maybe even encouragement.
Recently, Apple’s App Store team has started to promote new magazines from former Apple employees, making one wonder whether publishers can ever expect to get a fair shake from the company, and whether we have moved from the Newsstand’s Wild West days into something that is far darker.
Nomad Magazine is one of those new digital magazine start-ups that has you scratching your head, wondering if you are really seeing the truth, or something else altogether. Viewed in isolation, just through the app itself, one sees an interesting new publication.
The premiere issue features actor Benicio Del Toro on its animated cover (seen here in a GIF). That obviously is a good sign, few start-up digital magazines can attract actors to their covers unless they are well funded, or at least well-connected.
The digital app and magazine is created using the Adobe DPS, and is designed in portrait-only. According to the app description, the single issue price is $3.99 and a monthly subscription is $1.99, while an annual subscription is $14.99.
But tapping the issue cover begins the download process for the issue and checking my Apple iTunes account it shows the issue as free. Most likely this is an error on the part of the developer.
The size of the first issue is hard to tell as I could not get the entire issue to download. The download was incredibly slow and never reached a conclusion, but the navigation within the app shows that the first issue is very large, indeed.
“Nomad is the first of its kind – a truly global tablet-only publication, with editors stationed in over fifteen cities worldwide – brimming with forward-thinking content on culture, music, fashion, art, design, business, war and politics,” reads the app description.
“Unlike so many others – it is neither the generic tablet version of a print magazine, or a cluttered, digital publication in its own right. Slick, immersive and rich in video content, Nomad is elevating the experience of reading a traditional magazine onto a new digital landscape, without compromising the pleasure of sitting back and turning the proverbial page.”
That is a very promising app description, leading one to believe that this is a well-funded start-up from a major publisher. But the seller is listed as Icarus Enterprises, Inc., a company name that turns up nothing useful when you search for it.
The person behind the new app is Nicholas Huppert and, unfortunately, a search there immediately turns up several rip-off reports – sometimes the Internet can really bite you.
The reason for the need to search like this is that the new magazine’s website fails to give you any information about the publisher. The well-designed website either is broken, or the About Us and Contact links are intentionally wrong. Who knows?
Huppert’s own bio, on both about.me and the MPA page mention that he was involved with another magazine, Citizen New York. A search for that magazine, surprise, turns up an article on TNM about its app update that turns out to have broken the subscription mechanism of the app.
So is Nomad Magazine a great new magazine that needs better support from Apple to find its audience inside the Newsstand, or is it a new venture from an untrustworthy source? One can not tell. As of this moment, one hour after the download has started, it remains only two-thirds complete, but already over 600 MB has been downloaded.
Last second update: I am happy to report that the first issue of Nomad Magazine finally completed its download. My iPad states the file is taking up 1 GB of space on my tablet, an enormously large digital magazine issue, but one I will check out some more over the next few days.