February 20, 2014 Last Updated 4:08 pm

New Russian tablet magazine, Журнал Тогда (Then Magazine), lets old photographs tell the story

Interesting tablet magazines are coming from places, where just a year or so ago, none came at all. Many of these new digital magazines might be easily ignored because they are in foreign languages, but they can give the creative publisher some new ideas. You know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Журнал Тогда, translated from the Russian as Then Magazine, is a publication that looks at old photographs and tells the stories behind the photos. The first issue to appear inside the new Apple Newsstand app looks at photos from the 1920 from within the Soviet Union.

Then-iPad-lgThe app uses the Adobe DPS to create its app and the issue inside. Both portrait and landscape orientations are used. Both work, but since most of the photos are in landscape, the magazine feels just a bit better in that orientation.

The interactivity is minimal. Even the photographs that are less than the full size of the page do not reveal a larger photo if tapped – as they would in an eBook built with iBooks Author, for instance.

So the reader will need to use pinch-to-zoom to look closer at some of the pictures.

The idea behind the magazine is quite interesting, and I would think that there could be variations of this theme. For instance, if combined with longer form editorial, one could create a history magazine that combines both personal histories with political history. In any case, many older magazines and newspapers have extensive photography archives that are being wasted because the publisher is not creating ancillary digital publications.

Журнал Тогда, published by Ilia Starkov, is charging $2.99 for the first issue (U.S. store) – and for now, at least, there are no subscription options available inside the app, though the app description says the 12-issue annual subscription will cost 270 rubles (that’s about $7.55).

Of course, it will help to be able to read Russian to enjoy the magazine (I don’t). After four years of the iPad, it still amazes me that Apple has done nothing with translation services. This is an area where Google could really differentiate the Android platform, but they don’t appear very interested in the feature either.

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