July 8, 2014 Last Updated 10:53 am

New Professional & Trade digital editions: publishing approach very much dictated by choice of digital platform used for app

The most important, and hardest choice many publishers make when launching their first digital editions is generally the choice of publishing platforms. Oddly, many conversations I see online concentrate only on whether the goal is to end up with a native or replica edition, but there are other considerations involved, often ignored by the publishing team – these choices are very much apparent when one looks at several of the newest apps just released into the Apple Newsstand in the Professional & Trade (P&T) category.

KGP-iPad-coverFirst a word about the pace of new magazine launches. The pace of new digital magazine launches inside the Newsstand has definitely slowed, but it continues. Since the first of June, 24 new digital editions have appeared inside the Professional & Trade category, this is a few less than the number released a year ago during the same time period. More and more  publishers from outside the U.S. and U.K. are now releasing their first digital editions, as they play catch up when it comes to tablet publishing.

Several trends continue, though. Publishers who opt for replica editions often are not concerned with the marketing of their apps (or, at least, do not appear concerned), while those opting for native tablet editions usually retain tight control over the way their apps appear inside the App Store. This can lead to some errors as inexperienced publishers make simple mistakes that a vendor might not.

KGP Companies is a new tablet edition that uses the Mag+ platform to create a native tablet edition (and what looks like a replica iPhone edition). The digital publication serves the communications needs of KGP Logistics and BlueStream Professional Services. The app appears under the P&T category inside the Apple Newsstand, but inside the Books category inside the App Store itself – probably a mistake as the Business category is where it belongs.

The app is universal, though it appears that the digital edition was really designed for iPad reading. Currently the iPhone edition is broken as no issues showed up inside the app’s library. This may be caused by the fact that the app has just appeared inside the Newsstand, a common occurrence since Apple doesn’t send out notices telling the publisher that their app is live (how damn hard would that be?).

ThirdSector-iPadAnother native edition comes from Haymarket Business Media for Third Sector, the publisher’s magazine for the voluntary and not-for-profit sector. The app offers both a new weekly table-only edition, as well as the monthly magazine.

“A new weekly iPad edition has also been launched to cater for readers who prefer a more frequent update of news, comment and good practice. It will also be available as an email,” the magazine said on its website.

The two native apps are very different and look and purpose, but one thing both apps have in common is that they appear under the owner’s own developer account, and links found inside the app description all go only to the publisher’s websites, not the digital publishing platform’s website.

This is not the case for the two new replica editions app that have recently appeared inside the P&T category.

MILK Magazine is from France and is published by Isis-Colombe Combris, though that information is nowhere to be found in the app description. The app appears under the Audience Media developer account, a Barcelona company that was recently purchased by Zinio (see post on that acquisition, plus an interview with Joan Solà, EVP, Chief Global Markets at Zinio).

There is a second app for the related magazine Milk Decoration, but one can not tap or click on the “View More by This Developer” link and easily find the other titles by the same publisher as it will go to a list of all the titles by the vendor. All links in the app description also lead to the vendor, not the publisher.

One of those titles, by the way, is ESPN The Magazine, which is not the same app as ESPN the Magazine for iPad, which appears under ESPN’s own developer account (it’s all so confusing).

The apps from Audience Media are built around a replica edition of the print magazine, but also include reformatted versions of the articles that are native to the digital device they will be read on. In this way, one might compare them to the apps from PressReader (formerly NewspaperDirect).

CS-iPhone5-lgAnother app that is built as a replica, but without the enhancements of reformatted articles, is Christian Standard — Resourcing Christian Leaders. Unlike the previous app, this app actually contains a link back to the publisher’s website… kind of. Actually the link that reads “MAZ Digital LLC Web Site” goes to the publisher’s website, while the link that reads “Christian Standard — Resourcing Christian Leaders Support” goes to the vendor’s website. Go figure.

As the publisher of a dozen and a half different titles, I would never, ever let my magazine app appear inside a digital newsstand except under the name of my company. But this doesn’t appear to be a big concern for many publishers. But even if this is OK with you, certainly you will want to make sure that your new digital edition app appears in the proper category, and that readers will be able to link back to your own website for support and more information on the magazine. Not every vendor allows this, so this should be a consideration when signing that contract. If enough publishers insist on hanging on to a minimum of control we might start seeing some change their policies (or at least make sure the links are correct).

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