April 8, 2014 Last Updated 1:19 pm

B2B – part 2: Backstage uses Mag+ platform to create attractive native tablet edition

The B2B segment has lagged far behind consumer titles in launching their first apps into the Apple App Store or Google Play. But the pace of launches is certainly accelerating.

Backstage-iPad-coverOne of the new title released recently is for Backstage – the app being called Backstage Magazine. Like the McGraw-Hill titles mentioned in the previous post, Backstage has quite a history, too. Launched in late 1960 as a weekly tabloid named Back Stage, the publication was eventually purchased by Billboard Publications in 1986. The Dutch publisher VNU bought BPI in 1994, during an era of roll-ups in B2B media. In 1999, VNU bought AC Nielsen and through a few moves that company came to be called The Nielsen Company. In 2009, the Nielsen Business Media brands were sold off to what became Prometheus Global Media, now Guggenheim Digital Media. Finally, we hope, Backstage was acquired from Guggenheim by RZ Capital. Welcome to the crazy world of B2B publishing.

The just released Newsstand app for Backstage is for the iPad and uses the Mag+ platform to create a hybrid edition: the ads as seen in print, but the editorial reformatted for the tablet. The digital edition is to be read in portrait only, which allows the ads to be seen fitting on the tablet screen. If the magazine had a lot of 2-page spreads, designing for both landscape and portrait might have been necessary.

Backstage-featureThe layouts are very attractive here. Robert Wilson is credited with being the Creative Director, and William Scalia the Art Director – assuming they designed the digital edition then they did a great job. The app appears under a personal developer account – Jonathan Brown – so it may the that this is who is reformatting the magazine for the tablet platform.

Taking a completely different approach to their digital editions is the bimonthly B2B construction business magazine Construction & Architecture Update from India. This new Newsstand app is universal and is delivering a replica edition.

The app appears under the name of the digital publishing platform vendor, PressPad, which offers a low, set price for it apps that is attracting a lot of small and self publishers – the company’s website brags that “Last week 271 magazine owners signed up for PressPad digital publishing software platform and got iPad & Android apps.” Like most PressPad apps, the magazine is appearing under the vendor’s developer account rather than the under the publisher’s name.

ConArch-iconHere the app icon is rather odd looking as it does not show the magazine cover, or even its title.

When I advise magazine publishers I tell them to make their icons in portrait, even when they are designing their tablet editions in landscape. The reason for this is that newspapers tend to have landscape icons inside the Newsstand and most magazines have their covers in portrait – there is no reason to confuse the reader. Here, though, with a replica edition, it makes little sense not to use the latest cover as the app icon.