January 5, 2015 Last Updated 5:02 pm

Publisher overview: Elsevier Inc. – a frequent, if unimaginative launcher of digital edition apps

With nearly 200 apps inside the Apple App Store and Google Play, Reed Elsevier’s science and medical publishing division is among the most active launchers of digital edition apps

The science and health publisher, Elsevier, a division of Reed Elsevier, has nearly 200 apps inside the Apple App Store. Many of these are stand-alone apps, but many of them are housed inside the Newsstand.

Elsevier’s apps are designed as news apps, the kind of apps one would have expected to see back before the launch of the Newsstand – and, in fact, some of the apps do go back as far as 2010. Elsevier also has launched their apps into Google Play as Android smartphone apps.

JAH-screenshot-600Elsevier’s digital editions are not, for the most part, designed for the general public. One of the newest is Journal of Adolescent Health, a universal Newsstand app.

Reaching a professional audience with vital business and practical information, Elsevier can price its digital products high. A digital subscription to Journal of Adolescent Health, for instance, costs $449.99 for one year, or $38.99 for a single year.

For that kind of money, one might expect that the digital team would put more effort into a specially designed digital edition. But one has to think that Elsevier knows its audience, for their user reviews for their apps are, for the most part, positive.

One of Elevier’s more famous titles, The Lancet, recently launched a new app that moved the app into the Newsstand. The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal, founded in 1823 by an English surgeon, Thomas Wakley. The app houses the group of specialty magazines that use the Lancet name, titles such as The Lancet Neurology and The Lancet Oncology.

The reader can subscribe to nine different titles from the app, priced $99.99 up to $159.99 per year.

Reviews for the older app were bad as readers complained of bugs. Since the update, released in mid-December, there have been no new reader reviews so one doesn’t know if the update not only moved the app but fixed it, as well.

Elsevier has been aggressively launching digital editions, but its lack of imagination with the issues themselves may come back to bite them if readers find one day that a new, digitally native publisher has something more progressive to offer them. The digital publishing platform has distinct advantages over print when it comes to presenting animations, video and other material that may be of interest to medical professionals.

But for loyal readers of The Lancet and other publications, having these titles available as digital editions (current subscribers are allowed to log-in to the app to access their content).

Note: I think the headline is a little rough – ‘unimaginative’ might be the wrong word to use. But the apps are hardly great examples of digital publishing. Nonetheless, the goal here is to get the content to the end users, so by aggressively launching these apps, Elsevier is utilizing digital publishing in an aggressive, if not progressive, manner.

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