July 16, 2014 Last Updated 11:01 am

Bonnier updates its Apple Newsstand app for Saveur

Update brings new storefront, updated library, but not changes in the magazine’s digital edition strategy or its subscription policy

The Bonnier-owned world food magazine Saveur used to be one of my favorite magazines in print. I loved the variety of articles that stretched the globe, with not only good recipes, but also excellent writing and photography.

Saveur-iPad-storeBut I no long have a Borders near me (and neither do you), and since leaving the last publishing company I worked for hardly travel as I once did. That makes picking up a copy of Saveur harder and harder. But the magazine has had a digital edition for a long time now, though I have always found that a disappointing app.

Saveur is a pretty small circulation magazine compared to titles such as Food & Wine and Bon Appétit, with only 329,063 in circulation as of its latest report – essentially at the same level it has been at for a while. Its digital circulation is tiny, but not really that much worse than other titles in the category. With just under 18K in digital subscriptions, and just under 6K in digital single copy sales, its 7.3 percent digital circulation is about where the other titles are.

But the food category lags far behind others when it comes to creating interest, interactive magazines. But the reality is that one can not look at the latest audits and guess which titles are producing dull replica editions and which are producing native tablet editions. Wired, for instance, claims over 12 percent of its circulation is now digital editions, but Fast Company hasn’t even reached 5 percent.

Saveur-iPhone5-lgThe Apple Newsstand app for Saveur has always been retro: a replica edition that forces print readers to buy the digital edition, too. Most publishers who do this at least give their print readers a native digital edition when they have paid up twice – not Saveur. And readers hate the app for this, as well as the bugs that seem to haunt the app. 1-star reviews are more than doubt 5-star reviews, with most positive reviews from readers who really love the print magazine, and the negative reviews complaining about app crashes or the subscription policy.

Today Bonnier released an app update for Saveur which introduces a new storefront and updated library, but otherwise doesn’t change the nature of the digital editions. The update also fixes some bugs, so that might please some loyal readers.

But I haven’t read an issue of Saveur is long time and certainly won’t pay to receive a replica edition that does not fit the screen of the iPad, and so forces me to pinch-to-zoom to read. (It’s far worse on an iPhone.)

For me, Saveur will always be the food title that could have led the way, but instead fell behind. If a native tablet magazine was launched into this category, something similar to the approach taken inside the travel category, for instance, then maybe Bonnier would be forced to reconsider its digital strategy. Until then the app for Saveur still sits, ignored, inside my Newsstand, waiting for an update that changes the equation.

  • Dissatisfied 3 years ago

    You know what, as a once proud supporter of Saveur, don’t even bother with this new update. The archived “free” edition that is a separate app only offers issues from 2011-2012 and if you’ve paid for back issues from 2009, they’ve completely erased it. So unless they will give my money back or release the issues soon (which I’ve paid for) they’ve taken back 2 years worth of subscription from loyal customers. The app company is a total sham and should not be releasing such sub par product in the App Store.