July 22, 2014 Last Updated 11:13 am

CDW launches Apple Newsstand app for their customer magazines

First digital edition to appear is for BizTech, a native tablet edition built using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

That the magazine and newspaper industry is a conservative industry (not talking politics here) is probably not debatable. Publishers have a product and see their job mostly as protecting and hopefully growing that product. Brands, on the other hand, generally see their publishing products the way Apple sees their retail stores: not as profit centers themselves, but as promotional vehicles to make the whole enterprise profitable.

Some publishers who have moved aggressively into the events and/or information data businesses are starting to see their magazine titles this way, as well. But even when this is the case, rarely do we see publishers experimenting with their digital editions – in fact, it is often the case that they become even more conservative with their magazines, launching replica editions, often through third party vendors.

As a result, not enough print publishers are experimenting with the new digital platforms in such a way that they are moving towards new models for digital magazines. Some might argue that this isn’t necessary, that digital platforms are only a new distribution channel, not a new publishing platform. But if this doesn’t sound right to you, then the need to come up with new formats, new ways digital magazines can appeal to readers is important.

Enough of the think piece, and on to the meat and potatoes:

BizTech-iPadBrands such as automakers were some of the earliest innovators inside the Apple Newsstand. With virtually unlimited budgets, and the talents of app developers and design agencies assisting them, apps such as Volkswagen’s Das Auto played around with the digital magazine platform in a way few traditional print publishers did. It wasn’t just that they created an interactive digital edition filled with animation and other goodies, but that they rethought the layout and flow of their products.

Other brands, with preexisting customer print magazines have proved almost as conservative their publishing counterparts, though not quite. For one thing, few see the merits of launching a digital edition that replicates their print products. Cutting back on print production and distribution costs is less a priority where the magazine does not have its own P&L and its costs are rolled up into the company’s marketing budget.

The goal then shifts from potential cost savings to the lure of reaching more readers, and then more customers.

As a result, we see a company like ESRI using the Adobe DPS and investing the time and effort necessary into creating a native tablet edition. (See post on the ESRI digital editions here.)

CDW, the computer and electronics retailer, has several customer magazines that it produces on a quarterly basis. BizTech, FedTech, StateTech and EdTech reach specific customer lists, providing feature articles in addition to promotional information.

Last week CDW released a new Apple Newsstand app called CDW Magazines that one assumes will house digital editions for all four of the company’s magazines (I’ve reached out to the editor of the magazines to confirm some of my assumptions but did not hear back).

BizTech-iPad-featureFor now, the only title inside the app’s library is for BizTech. BizTech was the last of the quartet of magazines to be launched, seeings it debut in March of 2005 and was mailed to 50,000 businesses at the time. In an article from that time, Jim Garlow, the Director of Advertising, said that there would be an attempt to keep ad and edit functions separate, with editorial content accounting for around 70 percent of the whole. The rest is advertising from product manufacturers distributed by CDW.

The app and its digital editions were built using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, and like the ESRI digital editions, is a simple, native digital magazine. The layouts, such as the editor’s column by Ryan Peterson, feature single page layouts with a scrolling text box. Others, such as the TOC seen above, feature scrolling to a second or third page. A feature called Dashboard is almost, but not quite as seen in print: a two-page feature spread across two pages. It is not a replica, however, as the fonts are properly sized. To fit the editorial text into two tablet pages, scrolling text boxes are used.

I think it works just fine, and would be a good model for B2B publishers who want to produce a native tablet edition, but don’t want their art directors coming up with completely new designs, or spending as much time producing the Apple Newsstand version as they do on their print editions. The digital edition of BizTech also has a few interactive features that show off how a digital magazine can convey information more effectively than print such as the animation for 6 WAYS That Digital Dictation Pays Off. These types of animated features are easily created for the web, but if their source is a print magazine then

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