June 13, 2014 Last Updated 10:12 am

Platform start-up Prss quietly stops offering its publishing platform to other publishers

Shuttering of new digital publishing effort will not, apparently, mean the end of TRVL, one of the Newsstand’s most popular digital magazines

There are well over 100 different digital publishing platforms one can use to create a digital magazine app, making it a tough business to succeed in – almost as tough as the magazine business itself. Like magazine start-ups, the success rate is likely to be low unless one can get commercial or self-publishers to come on board.

TRVL-BrusselsOne of the more interesting and promising platforms is Prss, created by the publishers behind the popular travel magazine TRVL. The iPad-only magazine remains very well received from readers (386 5-star ratings, versus 2 1-star).

The app was originally launched using the WoodWing tools, another Netherlands-based company. But WoodWing changed its focus rather than compete head-on with Adobe, and so the co-founders of TRVL, Jochem Wijnands and Michel Elings, started to look into other solutions. Woodwing was not really a good fit for what TRVL needed, in any case.

“We are really into less is more,” Elings told TNM in 2012. “I turned off 90 percent of what you can do with WoodWing because I don’t think it helps the user.”

“So then we starting developing our own software out of frustration with what was available,” Wijnands said. “If there was an acceptable software around about a year ago we would have seriously considered it.”

What came out of this effort was Prss.

“It’s built to be flexible, it’s built for the future, and it’s built for iPad – It’s built for Apple,” Wijnands said in 2012. “And if you want to even take it a step further, I’d say it is built for the best user experience on whatever tablet or device you’re going to publish.”

During 2013 Prss went into a very private beta. TNM tried to get to try the platform to no avail, and even getting a demo of the platform took many months. (Being allowed to use the platform might have meant that our Tablet Publishing magazine app might have used Prss rather than the Adobe DPS Single Edition solution.)

Finally, last fall, the first magazine other than TRVL to use Prss appeared.

“My personal goal is to make print feel stupid,” Elings said last fall. “First, we needed to get to the same level as print. Personally I think we’re almost there. But our developments are now going beyond what print could ever do. And that’s not just for print. What’s coming up in our roadmap will make all the others fade away. We have so much great stuff that no one else is doing, or could be doing because you have to solve so many problems before you can do it.”

When the team decided to change directions is unknown. I stumbled upon all this when looking for an update on Prss, writing an email that eventually produced a cryptic response: “We value our users and are grateful for your support. However, we have decided to take the company in a different direction and the service will no longer be provided.”

While the end of Prss may mean the end of the first third party magazine to use it, it apparently won’t mean the end of TRVL, which released a brand new destination just yesterday (Brussels). Hopefully, TNM will get a further update after this post appears, as I know many TNM readers were eager to get their hands on the digital publishing platform themselves.

Note: I’ll update this post, or write another if I get further information from the Prss/TRVL team. But I don’t expect anything today as The Netherlands play Spain this afternoon (this evening in Amsterdam), along with the England-Italy match, among the most interesting of the first round.

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