March 21, 2014 Last Updated 1:09 pm

First Look: McGraw-Hill Financial releases digital edition for Engineering News-Record

The B2B magazine Engineering News-Record launched its first digital editions last month using the Mag+ platform, ENR Digital Edition – previously only a mobile news app was available. ENR is such a respected and historic title, that were it not for the sad state of B2B publishing, the news of the launch would have been as big as the launch of the first Wired or TIME magazine apps back in 2010.

ENR-iPad-coverENR is probably the most storied trade magazine in America, yet many publishing professionals, I’m often surprised to learn, are not familiar of it.

The magazine traces its history back to 1874 as the Engineer & Surveyor changing its name to Engineering News a year later. In 1911 the original owner sold the publication to Hill Publishing Company. Meanwhile, in 1877, a manufacturer of plumbing supplies launched a publication titled The Plumber and Sanitary Engineer. That publication eventually changed its name to Engineering Record and published weekly. In 1901, the publication was sold to James H. McGraw, and in 1917 McGraw merged with Hill Publications.

So you can see, ENR not only has a rich history, but it is the foundation for one of America’s great publishers. That publisher, of course, was once known as the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. It then became The McGraw-Hill Companies, and is now McGraw-Hill Financial, a name that more accurately reflects the companies current emphasis.

ENR is part of McGraw Hill Construction, a division that includes the Dodge line of construction information products (and was once known as F.W. Dodge) and the media products Architectural Record, and Sweets.

(Now the disclosure: I once worked for McGraw-Hill’s old Construction Information Group in San Francisco, which had as its flagship ENR. My division included regional construction publications that were sometimes newspapers – like my own Daily Pacific Builder – and sometimes magazines, and sometimes something in between.)

ENR-iPad-spreadAs a weekly, ENR is – like TIME magazine – at a disadvantage when creating a digital edition. With deadlines far tighter than that of a monthly, ENR would have to reformat its editorial content very quickly to get the latest issue inside the app’s library.

The solution the publication has chosen is to use the Mag+ platform to create what might be called an enhanced replica edition: all the pages of the magazine reproduced as an exact image of the print edition, but with embedded links and embedded video added occasionally. As a result, the latest issue of ENR has its issue file weigh in at 388 MB.

The app was originally released in early February and I saw the new app inside the Apple Newsstand immediately. But the app confused me: it looked and read as if this was the new ENR app, but the cover used for the icon was of one of the regional editions. I concluded, wrongly, that other apps would be released soon, including one for the main title. Revisiting the app, then downloading it, I found that the app’s library contains not only the weekly editions of ENR, but also special regional editions that the reader can download for free. The weekly issues of ENR cost $3.99, with an annual subscription priced at $29.99.

ENR-library-iPadThe regional editions are called “special regional content from ENR” meaning they are advertising driven. There are editions for Midwest, Southwest, New York, Mountain States and Texas & Louisiana. These regions were all part of the old regional group inside the Construction Information Group. The only areas missing are Northwest and Northern and Southern California. These regional editions are a bit smaller in file size, under 200 MB, and are strictly replica editions.

ENR-iPhone5-lgBy using a digital publishing platform that can produce a native tablet edition, at some point the editors may decide to do more with their new digital editions. Unfortunately, a decision was made to make the app universal, and though the tablet editions are fairly readable on an iPad with retina display, they are unreadable on an iPhone, no matter what generation is used. (Why publishers chose to do this is beyond me. A news app approach would seem a better idea.)

ENR Digital Edition is the first app to appear under the McGraw-Hill Financial, Inc. developer account name inside the Apple App Store. Apple makes it harder to move apps around from account to account, so the other apps for properties such as for Sweets appear under the old McGraw-Hill Construction account name.

This app for ENR, originally released into the Newsstand in early February, appeared in Google Play in early March.

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