Milwaukee Magazine launches native tablet edition from its printer owner, Quad/Graphics
City magazine app description screenshots lead you to expect a replica edition app, but actually delivers an attractive, native tablet edition, built using the Mag+ platform
The printer Quad/Graphics, headquartered in Wisconsin, is also the publisher of Milwaukee Magazine. If there was ever a time when you might understand why a publisher would produce a replica edition, you might think would be the time.
To say that I was surprised when I opened up the app, is an understatement. The app description, after all, features screenshots that definitely lead one to expect a PDF replica, and though the description is well-written, it says nothing about the digital edition being designed specifically for the iPad (or Android tablet).
The other reason, other than the screenshots, that I expected to see a PDF-driven digital edition upon opening the app, was that that other printing company, RR Donnelley, has a number of digital magazines under its own developer account in the Apple App Store and they are replicas (though one app, Hyundai AR, looks like an exception).
Upon opening the app for Milwaukee Magazine one is immediately invited to download a sample issue. The issue that downloads is from August and when it opened one could immediately see that the app used the Mag+ platform, which involves a plug-in for InDesign.
The digital editions are designed to be read in portrait, and so in this regard they are hybrid editions – with the advertising appearing as it would in print, but the editorial reformatted for the tablet. The result is an attractive digital edition.
Quad/Graphics is giving readers only one subscription option – an annual subscription at $19.99. Otherwise, individual issues can be bought for $4.99 a piece.
The only review for the app so far is a mixed one that asks how a current print subscriber could sign into the app to access issues. It appears that it can’t be done as there is no mention of this in the app description, nor in the app.
The “My Account” button at the bottom of the app’s library page takes you nowhere except to an error page – which, it must be admitted, is pretty creatively designed.
A couple of years ago one might have wondered if it is a good idea to not offer a monthly or six-month subscription option. Monthly subscriptions, after all, have driven quite a number of sales for magazine publishers.
But many publishers are finding that those monthly subscriptions are something like an albatross around their necks. The monthly option drove a lot of sales, but they are hard to maintain as Apple sends out push notifications each month to those subscribers reminding them of their renewal – a perfect reminder that they could cancel their subscriptions. But eliminating the monthly option means those readers would be instantly lost. There remains no mechanism to contact them directly to tell them to move to another option (something that would be in the best interest of both publishers and Apple to correct).