January 16, 2014 Last Updated 2:29 pm

B2B: BNBuilders launches a quarterly into the Apple Newsstand using Mag+

The beginnings of Internet publishing correspond to my time in the B2B magazine industry with my first exposure to the new form of publishing occurring when I was at The McGraw-Hill Companies in San Francisco. By the time I had moved to Chicago it was apparent that the web would be the future and magazine and newspaper publishers had better wake up.

I remember conversations that go all the way back to the end of 1995 – first small mentions, then by the end of 1996 full blown admonitions: this thing is going to be huge, guys! What eventually got the company’s attention was when they discovered that they had real competition online, thanks to VerticalNet. VerticalNet’s rise drove many B2B publishers to take the web seriously, but their demise did everyone a major disservice by reinforcing the views of some that digital would not be a big deal after all.

NBN-iPad-navThe niche I was in was construction and it was not until McGraw-Hill launched its own construction.com website (how did they snatch that URL?) that the industry got a decent website from a trade publisher. As a result, clients either used those outside the publishing industry to launch their owns sites, or went it alone. But the result is that even today, construction magazine websites are not much to look at (where press releases go to die, is what I say).

So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to find out that when it comes to tablet magazines, there is not much coming from trade publishers. Few of the major titles have their own tablet apps, and those that do have generally left it to their printer or another vendor to produce a replica edition app. A few manufacturers, such as Atlas Copco Airpower’ BUILD Magazine have been launched into the Newsstand, but these are pretty rare. In other words, once again B2B publishers are leaving it up to the their clients to explore another digital publishing platform, just as they did with the web.

In many ways, I think the clients themselves are in as good a position to produce their own digital magazines as B2Bs. For a company like the west coast construction company BNBuilders, Inc., the effort is part of their marketing and so all the reasons B2Bs give me for why they are avoiding the platform go away – it isn’t about qualified readers, or a lack of production skill, or the lack of new advertising prospects, it’s about driving more business.

BNBuilders – The Quarterly is a very simple digital magazine that is using the Mag+ platform. The newly launched app currently only contains the May 2013 magazine inside it, but one assumes they will fill up the library with more current issue soon, then launch new ones into the app as they become available.

Back in 2010 I said on Talking New Media (the old blogger site) that I doubted if trade publishers would rush to the tablet platform unless forced to do so. That unless a new, digital-only company arose, just as VerticalNet did, that many publishers would wait. (What VerticalNet did was not just create industry website, they stole editors and sales people from publishers by offering stock options – that got their attention!)

I think that with the exception of a few categories, like advertising, I have been proved right. But the reason some categories have been more progressive is that they contain paid print magazines, rather than just qualified circulation titles. Construction has Engineering News-Record, but McGraw-Hill is less and less a magazine publishing house these days, so seeing a tablet edition of ENR or ArchRecord is unlikely.

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