January 17, 2014 Last Updated 10:40 am

Category review: Cooking, Food & Drink in the Apple Newsstand

The Cooking, Food & Drink category of Apple’s Newsstand is not for a loss of titles, though it is hardly the largest. Just under 350 digital magazines can now be found in this category in the Newsstand. In comparison, however, there are over 6,000 apps in the Food & Drink category of the App Store (though quite a number are duplicates, one for iPhone, another for iPad).

Unlike the Photography category, which has seen a large number of truly excellent, native tablet magazines developed and launched, the food category is remains disappointing, with replica editions still dominating.

seo_cw_product 9.59.07 AMBut in this category, at least, major publishers like Condé Nast and others have created digital editions using the Adobe DPS that are at least interactive, creating hybrid editions where the advertising remains as seen in print, but the editorial has been reformatted.

But the category also features some of the most disappointing apps in the App Store such as Bonnier’s horrible app for Saveur, which is not only a dull replica edition, but buggy, as well. Readers hate it, not only for the fact that print subscribers must pay again for access, but that once they do they get such a dissatisfying digital product.

Inside the U.S. App Store, Apple is promoting 36 food magazines inside the app portion of the store. The titles that they have chosen to promote have little to do with the quality of the apps, and more to do with what will sell. Inside the Newsstand, though, where there is a Food & Drink promotion area, only 19 titles are being promoted, further proof of the illogic of the Apple App Store these days. Again, all the titles are from big name publishers, and the quality of the apps being promoted leaves a lot to be desired. If Apple wants better apps from its publishers they certainly haven’t told the App Store team that.

FW-iPad-recipeThe main addition many digital editions have added is the cooking mode, which varies title by title. A few magazines, realizing that almost all iPad cases and stands place the tablet in landscape, make sure that recipes display this way.

But the production of dual orientation digital editions is an exception in this category, and magazines like American Express’s (now Time Inc.) FOOD & WINE leaves the recipes in portrait (though it is still very useful in comparison to trying to read a recipe from a replica edition.

Most of the new digital-only cooking magazines come from self-publishers who are using PDF-based solutions like MagCast to produce their digital magazines. The result is that the pages lack interactivity, but because the pages are built to iPad specs, the fonts are usually large enough for pleasurable reading.

What is starkly missing from the category are radical new visions of the category magazine. Magazines such as Wine LR., from Balthazer Matita, which is mostly made up of video and designed in landscape, are very rare. Since the digital magazine is built around video, the design choices are logical.

But with so many cooking shows, and with cooking demonstrations dominating YouTube, you might think that the print cooking magazine, video and the tablet platform would be a match made in heaven. So far, though, publishers don’t see it that way.

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