May 5, 2014 Last Updated 3:54 pm

First Look: the apps from Audience Media offer replica editions with text conversions

Zinio recently announced its acquisition of the CMS and app services company founded in Barcelona. Here is a look at three recently released Apple Newsstand apps.

Last week the digital platform company Zinio announced that it has acquired Audience Media, a company with its origins in Barcelona, though now with its development offices in Vietnam. Audience Media provides CMS and app services for its publishing clients and has 30 apps under its own developer account name inside the Apple App Store, though there may be others for publishers who are more protective of their branding and insist they appear under their own name rather than the vendors.

Voyager-iPad-pagetotext“We are excited to be part of Zinio and introduce our technology to new audiences,” Andrew Duck, CTO of Audience Media, and based in Vietnam, said in the acquisition announcement. “By joining forces with a category leader like Zinio, we are giving millions access to digital magazines across devices and helping publishers make a seamless transition from print to digital with the best tools in the industry.”

So what do the apps coming from Audience Media look like? Are they, like the digital editions found inside the Zinio digital newsstand, replica editions, or are they native tablet magazines?

TNM looked at the three most recently released apps – for Golf Tips Magazine (U.S.), Voyager Magazine (Italy) and Milk Decoration (France).

Each of the apps were identical, opening to an attractive library where the reader can buy a single issue or subscribe. While the app for Milk Decoration misbehaved and preventing me from purchasing anything (see below) the others were less buggy.

The apps from Audience Media are replicas of the print edition that offer reformatted versions of the magazine articles for either smartphone or tablet reading. In this way, they are similar to what PressReader is offering newspaper customers for their digital editions.

AM-libraryThese are not enhanced replicas. An enhanced replica gives the reader a PDF of the magazine, then contains links and embedded media which spruce up the feel of the digital edition.

The reader opens the issue like any replica edition. If the article they are looking at contains a minimal amount of text, and if the font is big enough, one can read the article as is. But to pull up a reformatted version of the article the reader taps the screen which pulls the issue navigation plus options for reading the “text” version of the story, plus bookmarking and sharing options.

Choosing the text version of the story produces a scrolling version of the story with in-line graphics. Tapping the screen again pulls up options: to return to the “page” within the replica edition, font adjustment options, and the bookmarking and sharing options. Because the solution is based on a replica, with the text versions added in, the resulting digital edition weighed in at a modest 159 MB.

This kind of digital edition will appeal to magazine publishers who firmly believe their print product is the real magazine, while everything else is just a digital conversion. For those designers who prefer the design freedom of a native tablet edition, they will miss the freedom of design inherent in working with InDesign or other publishing software.

There is no arguing that the reading experience is far superior to a plain jane replica, and what Audience Media is offering its publishing partners is more than just apps. I have been offered a chance in the future to see the backend of the system and its CMS offerings. If that occurs, I will report back once again.

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