April 1, 2015 Last Updated 2:05 pm

Political journal ‘In These Times’ launches native tablet edition into the Apple Newsstand

The Chicago-based progressive politics magazine used the Mag+ digital publishing platform to produce its newly launched iPad digital edition

I had so hoped that Apple would play a little joke on digital publishers by either killing off the Newsstand altogether, or fixing it a bit – then say it was all an April Fools’ Day joke and return it to its decrepit condition. Ha, joke’s on us!

But, instead, they simply took the store down for an hour or so today for a little maintenance. In the meantime, not many updates or new apps have appeared this week, but one did get my attention when I saw it. In fact, I almost had to check my eyesight to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

ITTi-Jancover-800In These Times, a magazine I haven’t seen in forever, probably since college days (and that’s been a long time ago), has made it into the Apple Newsstand with an app that uses the Mag+ digital publishing platform. That means readers can expect a very readable, native tablet edition.

If you are unfamiliar with the magazine, which is likely as it has a circulation of only about 18K, here is a little background. In These Times was launched in 1976 by James Weinstein, with founding sponsors that included Julian Bond, Noam Chomsky, Barry Commoner, and Michael Harrington. Weinstein was inspired by the late nineteenth century newspaper Appeal to Reason, the socialist weekly newspaper which folded in 1922 after it lost its second-class mailing rights for its opposition to World War I. (Times were certainly different then, Appeal to Reason once had a circulation of over 600,000.)

In These Times is the kind of publication I thought would be a natural for a digital newsstand such as Apple’s or Google’s, as there are few print newsstands left that would carry many political titles – certainly few outside of major urban centers.

ITT-TOC-iPadBut while there were quite a few political apps that were launched at the beginning of the App Store, most came from the right, usually stealing the content from The Drudge Report before Apple cracked down on some of them (a number of Drudge knock-offs are still available).

There are a couple of things a reader will immediately notice about the new Newsstand app for In These Times. First, the latest issue available is January. The apps was released March 27, which means it may not actually have been first seen until Monday of this week. It’s possible that the publisher isn’t even aware their app had gone live. In any case, it isn’t terribly unusual for a magazine app to go live with only back issues, then new ones quickly get launched as soon as the magazine has gone live.

The second thing one notices is that the fonts are huge. This app is only for the iPad, so it is not as if it were designed with the iPhone in mind. One cannot even say that the fonts are large because they wanted to make it readable on the iPad mini – that is the device I used to look at the digital edition and the fonts still seem large to me.

The good news, I suppose, is that fonts that are a tad large are still very much readable – and for me, that is the number one thing a digital edition should achieve, readability (and why so many replica editions bother me).

After that, the digital edition is designed like one might expect, knowing Mag+ is the platform: scrolling within stories, swiping to move to the next; the occasional scrolling text box; and easy navigation.

Single issues are available within the app at $2.99, with an annual subscription priced at $14.99.

  • Nick Martin 2 years ago

    It’s always great to read an article that get’s Doug a little bit excited about new digital editions 🙂 Hopefully we will get more of these in the future.