April 29, 2014 Last Updated 12:40 pm

Newsstand category review: New political magazines make their way into the Newsstand

An occasional look at individual categories inside the Apple Newsstand and the new digital publications to be found there

The Apple Newsstand, as publishers know, has become a mess over the past year or so. Apple’s App Store team has provided magazine publishers with 28 categories for which to choose, which would be sufficient if the Apple folks would maintain them as they do other areas of the App Store. But none of the categories look to be supervised and mrs often than not worthy new titles go wanting for a bit of promotion and as a result don’t stand a chance.

The News & Politics category is one of the Newsstand’s most popular. On April 11, when TNM last counted the publications there were 974 titles, only ten of which were paid apps. The past two weeks has seen the category now exceed a thousand apps (which shows the rate the digital launches occurring).

Because the category is home to magazines as diverse as TIME Magazine and Computer Arts Italia one can see that defining “news” is really up to the individual publisher. Certainly any B2B magazine providing news on a particular industry could use the category, though most choose either “Business & Investing” or “Professional & Trade”.

NIAus-iPadThis is also the category where one might expect to see the most fringe magazines – those self-published titles that advocate for various political positions. But the reality is that they are few and far between. But what one does see is that many news organizations and familiar news titles launched their digital editions early on, and that more and more frequently the newly released titles are more likely to be using the “political” side of the category, rather than the “news” side.

Most of the newly released titles inside the category are not very inspiring.

New Internationalist Magazine Australia is a new release from New Internationalist Publications, a co-operative-run publisher based in Oxford, England. (Here is the other edition inside the Newsstand: New Internationalist Magazine.)

The app offers what can be best described as a web experience once the reader has subscribed. Issues are designed as you would see them online, in a continuous scroll, with graphics inserted here and there. A number of platforms are moving this direction in order to provide a consistent look between ecosystems. It doesn’t take advantage of the full potential of the tablet platform, of course, but it does provide for a native tablet reading experience with properly sized fonts, etc. This way of designing the digital edition works particularly well when one wants the app to be universal – which this one is – so that this scheme works just as well on iPhones.

I have not downloaded the main version of the magazine, though the screenshots appear to give the impression that it is a native tablet edition with layouts specifically designed for the iPad (it is not a universal app).

Chronicles-iPad-coverChronicles Magazine is from The Rockford Institute, and is one the opposite side of the political spectrum. The institute is located in Rockford, Illinois (hence its name) and is associated with paleoconservatism, and so I would guess that the two magazine editors probably shouldn’t be invited into the same room with each other.

The digital edition is very much similar to the New Internationalist Magazine Australia digital edition, however, though its look is more similar to the digital editions coming out of 29th Street Publishing.

One should add here that all Newsstand publications can actually be in two categories at one time: one category inside the Newsstand, and another in the App Store, in general. In the case of Chronicles Magazine it is also found under Books – an odd choice, but many other apps choose this one, as well, especially Chinese apps. New Internationalist Magazine Australia is under Education.

seo_cw_productThe last magazine I looked at… I didn’t really look at. The Hard Truth Mag is much like what I expected to see more of: a self-published magazine from someone who has a position to promote (not that the established magazine mentioned above don’t, as well). But in this case, whoever is behind this new digital magazine wants to stay anonymous – at least in the App Store and online, as there is no one willing to put their name behind the product.

“The Hard Truth publishes news you won’t find in mainstream media. It’s not for the faint of heart,” the app description proclaims.

Well, brave publisher, if you are not faint of heart maybe you might want to say who you are. Because at a price of $24.99 for an annual subscription, and $4.99 for a single issue, the reader might want to know a little bit about the people (or person) behind the magazine.

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