May 4, 2015 Last Updated 10:15 am

First look: two new digital magazines make unusual screenshot and icon choices

Most magazines that create replica editions still take screenshots from the digital editions themselves, not scans of their print magazine as this Canadian title does

The latest batch of new digital magazines are probably not exactly what Apple and the late Steve Jobs had in mind when they launched the iPad five years ago. The rumor is that Jobs was not very happy with The New York Times when they released an app that only offered selections from the print newspaper and website, but over time the app began to offer more and more content, though its overall design has changed little in five years.

The problem, as digital publishers know full well, is that many – maybe most – publishers don’t see digital editions as a separate, new product, but simply as an extension of their print product.

MagazineCHIC-screen1So it should be totally shocking when we see a magazine publisher use pictures of their print magazine for screenshots, rather than actual screenshots from the app. But as far I as I know, the screenshots used for Magazine CHIC par Le Germain are a first.

The new app is from the Canadian luxury hotel chain Le Germain Hotel. The magazine, called CHIC, is obviously one of those publications you would find in one of its hotels in Calgary, Toronto, Montréal or Québec City. Sometimes it is hard to get screenshots for one’s app as the digital editions are not ready by the time the app actually launches into the Newsstand, but this app has been inside the store for two weeks now and I would think it would be time to swap out the screenshots and replace them (for a while Apple made it nearly impossible to swap out screenshots, but things have gotten better).

The actual digital magazine is a replica, and a very hard one to read. Some PDF based magazines are a little easier to read than others, but this one uses small fonts to begin with, as a digital edition it is painful.

StarupMag-ipadAnother PDF based digital magazine is the new digital-only title The Startup Magazine. Because The Startup Magazine is digital-only, it chose its fonts based not on what would look good in print, but what works on the iPad.

The magazine, though, chose one of its text only pages to use as its issue icon (seen at right in the lower left-hand corner). The actual magazine cover is rather nice, and obviously would have made a better choice as the icon. But this app has just launched, so hopefully they will now go into iTunesConnect and fix the icon to show the cover.

As for the digital magazine itself, it is a collection of text-only articles, similar to what one finds on other PDF-based digital publishing platforms, not one created by an experienced art director.

But the MAZ digital publishing system which was used has a unique preview feature that allows the reader to spend two minutes or so with the title before deciding to buy or not. It is a nice automatic way to build a preview (many other magazines just offer the first couple of pages to see which really doesn’t work when those pages are just ads).

Note: As I was finishing this post I wanted to check out The Startup Magazine once again inside the Apple App Store and did a search for the magazine typing it its exact name. Apple’s search mechanism correctly guessed which app I was searching for and auto-filled in the name. I pressed return and then… 62 magazines came up, in which “The Startup Magazine” was listed as the 33rd app listed. Entrepreneur Magazine came up first, further proof that the keywords you use must include, and should probably start, with the actual name of the app. Try and get this right at launch.

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