June 4, 2014 Last Updated 7:44 am

First look: new digital magazines expand the tablet publishing platform beyond the US & UK

Four new art magazines, using four different digital publishing platforms, all produce native tablet magazines for the Apple Newsstand

There are days when my enthusiasm for the new digital publishing platforms begins to want, when it looks like the big tech companies have conspired to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Then one attempts to drop the cynicism that has built up after over 30 years in publishing and look at some of the new digital-only publications being released into the Apple Newsstand.

Like love, it is best to go into digital publishing a little naive, a little optimistic.

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[b]racket is a Korean/English art magazine from South Korea, published under a personal developer account by Jacob Morris. The digital magazine was originally supported by a WordPress site that shows that there are issues that go back to October of 2012 when the first issue appeared in print and was distributed through galleries and cafes.

“We are artists of sots and think we miss the amount of magazines in print from home,” Chris Cote told The Korea Herald. Cote, along with Greg Laychak and Jess Hinshaw were credited in that article with launching the magazine. Today the credits for the new digital edition list Cote and Hinshaw, along with Sybille Cavasin and Lisa Highfill. Jacob Morris, whose developer account was used to launch the Newsstand app, is listed as a contributor.

The new digital edition is free of charge to download and designed in portrait-only.

The goal of the magazine, and its new Newsstand app, is to feature local artists that the publishers believe are not getting their due.

“When we created [b]racket magazine I thought, great, but why?” writes Cole in the new issue. “Greg jess and I decide it’s because we wanted to spotlight great artists in Korea. Despite the fact that I am constantly questioning my own comings and goings. I sometimes forget to ask this question about the art that I spend hours looking at while laying out this magazine.”

Despite coming from print, the digital edition is native in design, using the now familiar navigation scheme of scrolling within articles, and swiping to move on to the next article.

LAR-iPadLARMAGAZINE is another new Newsstand app that has its roots in a print magazine that goes back at least as far as March of 2010 as is published from Mexico City. The app was also released under a personal developer account of the co-founder Judith Memum.

This art magazine uses the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to create its digital editions and the issue downloaded came in at 414MB in size.

The app description for this bilingual magazine is a bit raw, giving one a bit of a feeling for what to expect inside:

“LARMAGAZINE is a young, critical, and compromised magazine committed to demonstrate the new artistic projects that are currently emerging within the professional field of the contemporary arts through an international level.”

MasMag-coverRevista MASMAG appears under the developer account of EnTren New Media and comes from Spain. The magazine appears to be a digital-only effort and though it can be opened in landscape and contains elements designed for that orientation, it is designed for portrait reading.

The initial issue takes a while to download, being well over 500MB in size. The app was created using Tablet Planet from Roduly.

Unlike the previous two art magazines, this one was obviously conceived of as a digital publication from the beginning. It opens with an animated cover (which the GIF shows rather roughly) and contains animated features throughout – which, of course, helps explain the large file size.

Like the other digital editions, MasMag uses scrolling within stories and swiping to progress throughout the digital edition.

From a technical standpoint, MasMag is the most impressive of the three digital publications, but all three are native – and best of all, all three allow you to access the issues for free so that you can review them yourself.

RoomDesign-iPad-coverThe last of the four new Newsstand apps is ROOM Design Magazine, from Madrid.

This magazine is the only one of the four that feels right from the beginning like a commercial venture.

Built using the Mag+ platform, the Newsstand app also opens with an animated cover, this time with a little audio to accompany it. Then it opens to what might be called a hybrid edition, though the ads are sometimes enhanced with multimedia.

Like many Mag+ built digital editions, the issue uses scroll boxes generously throughout the issue. The first issue available produced a file size of 294 MB.

Although the app description mentions a single issue price of 4,49€ and a subscription price of 14,95€ for four issues, the initial issue inside the app can be downloaded for free if one taps the cover inside the library page.

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