February 11, 2014 Last Updated 8:35 am

B2B: ABA Journal and Constructech launch new apps into the Apple Newsstand

One app is attractive and social, but delivers a replica edition; the other is simpler, but gives readers a digital edition designed for their device

The B2B publisher, once they have decided to launch digital editions, faces the same dilemma as their consumer counterparts: do we invest the time to redesign our print magazine for digital devices, or simply let them be converted via the PDF?

Two new apps inside the Apple Newsstand illustrate the choices perfectly. Both new apps are excellent, but they provide their readers very different digital magazines.

ABAJournal-splash-iPadABA Journal Magazine, for the American Bar Association uses the MAZ platform to produce their Newsstand app. One knows they are using MAZ because, like other apps that use the platform, MAZ’s name is plastered onto the splash page.

Thankfully, the app appears under the ABA’s own developer account. For me, the idea of publishing my digital edition under someone else’s developer account remains something that would automatically prevent me from using their platform – it is nonnegotiable.

The app is gorgeous. Everything from the way the app opens, with its instructions, to the library and store pages are attractive and very well done. The platform delivers an app design that does not try and replicate Apple’s iOS 7 look, with its pastels and simple-silly look. Instead, this is an app that can remain as is long after Apple decides to change its look once again some time in the future.

But the attractiveness of the app can not hide the fact that once the reader gets to the actual magazine they are simply reading a PDF. The design is all about print.

Specialty Publishing Co.’s Constructech magazine, on the other, delivers the now familiar look of an app that uses the Mag+ app. Like the app from the ABA, Constructech appears under the publisher’s own developer account.

In the editor’s column, Peggy Smedley (who is actually the president of the company) introduces the new digital edition.

“Now let’s talk about the big news,” Smedley writes. “Constructech has a new and improved digital edition. You are ins tore for a bevy of new interactive content. Whereas we have had a digital edition in the past, our new Mag+ version takes the idea of an interactive publication to the next level, complete with additional content, animations, video content, and so much more.”

Constructech-columnSmedley explains that they had previously published a digital edition through Zinio, but that she challenged the editor, Laura Black, and the designer, Angie Cooley, to “transform it into something you would fancy even more.”

Like many consumer magazines, Constructech’s new digital edition is a hybrid, with the print ads reproduced as you would see them in print, but with the editorial pages reformatted for digital devices.

Despite being a native tablet edition (the app is universal, so works on the iPhone) the file size was only 18 MB when downloaded. The reason is that the layouts are still fairly simple, with only a minimum of interactive material. The other reason, sadly, is that the issue is thin – either because the publisher did not bring in all the material from print, or because this reflects the bad times B2Bs are experiencing.

Both ABA Journal and Constructech are charging for their digital editions ($74.99 for ABA Journal, and $9.99 for Constructech – guess lawyers can afford to pay more!)

Back in the day, I was a B2B publisher producing a magazine in the construction market and regularly kept my eye on Constructech as we wanted our fair share of technology advertising. As far as I know, Constructech is the first of the magazines I would have been tracking to introduce a native digital edition. None of the heavy equipment magazines, and not my own former magazine title, can even be found inside the Newsstand – replica or native.

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