New photography digital editions: platforms make the reader gamble on new titles
Expensive, anonymously published new digital magazines make the reader take all the risk when buying a new digital magazine from an unknown publisher
The iPad is a great platform for photography. I have designed several photography eBooks and am working on one that combines video and film stills. They look great.
The advantage of the iPad platform is consistency, something photographers appreciate. A well designed photography magazine, printed on high quality paper can be a very attractive product. But too many are printed on lower quality stock – then there is the issue of ink variations.
Whether the Newsstand is a good retail outlet for photography is another question. Most photographers really aren’t equipped to produce a magazine on a regularly schedule, so the iBooks Store maybe a better place to sell their work.
I looked at three new digital magazines today that feature photography and came away disappointed by what I saw.
Hen Magazine is the latest Apple Newsstand app to appear under the Almond developer account.
There are so many reasons to not have your magazine appear under the developer account of your platform that it seems silly to have to repeat them. But this magazine is a good example. Who the hell are the people behind this magazine? There is a nice app description, but all the links in iTunes lead one to Almond, but the publisher. Most readers simply aren’t going to work as hard as I did to find the publisher’s website – here – though all that did was tell me where I can pick up a print copy of the magazine in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg.
This is one reason why so many new digital magazines offered a 1-month subscription, so readers could test out the magazine inexpensively. Unfortunately, that was a deal with the devil as Apple will notify readers each month that their subscription is renewing, leading to the loss of many of those early readers.
(TNM recently looked at the new digital magazine The Periodic (see here), also appearing under the Almond developer account. It is a native digital magazine that is very nice and also includes a URL to the magazine’s Facebook page.)
La Femme Nue Magazine appears under the developer account of Thomas Peters, but the link in the app description goes to MAGetc. Also, in the app description there is a URL for Focus Publishing, which has 26 photography related digital magazines inside the App Store/Newsstand.
Unfortunately, I chose to buy the latest issue which is labeled June in the app’s library. But once bought the cover clearly says “September” (click/tap to enlarge screenshot, if necessary).
All that downloads is the cover you see at right – so you have seen the entire issue, there is no reason to bother buying it yourself, I spent the $4.99 for you. (Boy, was I pissed. I’m sure anyone else who bothers to buy it will be, too.)
I also looked at several other new Newsstand apps such as NORMAL MAGAZINE which appears under “Incarnatio” developer account, but is placed inside the Newsstand by MagazineCloner (that means PDF replica). Again, there were no links to the publisher and so no way to determine if the product was worth paying for.
In every case, each digital magazine was pricey, and the risks high for the buyer.
If digital publishing companies are going to continue to treat readers this way there will never be a market for digital magazines. Five years into the digital publishing platform tied to tablets and smartphones, things are getting worse, not better. One can blame Apple, Google or Amazon for creating terrible digital newsstands, but the digital publishing platforms are not helping matters either.