October 28, 2014 Last Updated 1:44 pm

First look: Design Anthology releases replica edition using boutique publishing platform

New digital publishing platform offers a series of publishing options including a revenue share model, but app crashes mar the release of a couple new digital magazine apps

A recurring theme of late here has been digital magazines with reader complaints not about the design of the digital edition so much other issues such as subscription services or app bugs. This is certainly the case with a series of Apple Newsstand apps I downloaded this afternoon.

The best of the bunch is the newest: Design Anthology is a simple replica edition produced by AkmStudio Ltd. The London-Berlin digital publishing platform has 15 titles inside the Apple Newsstand, as well as a few others in the App Store outside the Newsstand. The platform also will allow a publisher to have their apps appear under their own name, as well.

DesingAn-TOCThe magazine is selling a 3-month subscription for £3.99, which makes sense since this is a quarterly publication – essentially this is the single issue rate, but the publisher at least has a chance of that reader sticking and having the subscription renew automatically.

The Apple Newsstand app is universal, and so will work on an iPhone as well as an iPad – though how the reader would be able to actually read the magazine would be a challenge. I found the issue hard enough to read on my iPad mini.

I also downloaded two other magazine apps from AkmStudio, but didn’t have as much luck. Both The Quarterly and Analog Journal crashed before I could access any issues. Both apps were released after the launch of iOS 8, so one assumes that any bugs are not directly associated with the introduction of the new mobile operating system. Both magazines are serving small niches so there are currently no reader reviews complaining about the crashes (or saying anything else, for that matter).

This is a shame, I might add, as both magazines looked very intriguing.

I previously looked at an app from AkmStudio – Bristol Live – and that app behaved properly, though I did complain that the app descriptions did not link back to the publisher. That is not the case with these newer apps, so I obviously think that is an improvement. Next, the developer will need to issue updates to solve those crash issues.

AkmStudio is not one of the platforms included in the Guide to Digital Publishing Platforms (actually the company name is called Almond on the website, and AkmStudio in the App Store). But their pricing, as seen on the website, offers several options from a low per month charge for free magazines, to a 20 percent revenue share for paid magazines, to a flat fee approach. They also offer optional add-ons like a web app option, social media package, etc. They also offer custom interfaces, and app data reports. I am not sure if they offer anything other than replica editions, however.

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