February 18, 2014 Last Updated 8:53 am

Update: Citygram, Austin’s digital-only city magazine app

The Newsstand app Citygram, a tablet-only city magazine covering Austin, Texas, has been updated to add new subscriptions options. The iPad app was released last May and has received overwhelmingly positive reader reviews.

Citygram was one of the very first attempts are producing a city/regional magazine exclusively for the tablet platform.

Citygram-citypics-lgWhen first released, Citygram felt like one of many naive attempts to create a viable digital magazine. Yes, Austin is a tech city, and therefore more likely to be able to support an iPad magazine, but was it really possible to created a digital-only magazine that is not national in scope? Almost a year later Citygram is still publishing.

Created by Chris Perez, a former engineer with IBM, the magazine uses the Adobe DPS to create its Newsstand app and digital editions.

“It’s been a six or seven month operation from getting the concept to building the team to getting it live in the App Store,” Perez told me last May.

“It required a lot of passion on my part. I was very interested in art, very interested in design and photography. And what appealed to me the most about the magazine format was it was connecting everything I knew.”

Perez knew what he wanted to achieve, design-wise, with his digital start-up – having been inspired by the interactivity he saw in digital editions from Vanity Fair, GQ and Martha Stewart Living. “They had the experience I wanted,” Perez said.

“First and foremost is that Citygram is a digital-only publication – there is no print counterpart,” Perez told the One Fine Day blog. “Most tablet magazines are an afterthought to a print publication, they focus primarily on making a replica of the printed page. Most of the time this is done by simply converting physical page layouts into a series of PDF’s. Other than being digital and mobile, the PDF magazine apps offer no additional functionality or utility, and they are basically as static as a printed page.”

Initially, Perez attempted a Kickstarter funding drive to raise 10 grand, but when that effort failed he decided to fund the start-up himself.

“It is a little bit expensive. You have to come up with $6,000 up front to be in that professional realm,” he said, referring to the cost of Adobe’s DPS Newsstand solution. “And when people download it there is an expense, so that’s tricky – that’s going to be tough to juggle.”

Almost a year later, however, the magazine is still going strong.

Release originally in May 2013, the app was updated two months after launch to add iPhone support, then again in October following the release of iOS 7, and again this week.

For the most part, city/regional magazines have stuck to releasing replica editions of their print magazines. But as Citygram is digital-only, and feels so much younger and more energetic than the typical city/regional magazine, Perez’s choice to go with native design seems very logical, indeed.

The entire interview and original post on the Citygram digital magazine app can be found in the eBook edition of Talking Digital. The interactive edition of the book is exclusive to the iBooks Store, but a print edition will be published next month for Amazon.com.

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