September 10, 2015 Last Updated 1:43 pm

A few new digital magazine apps enter the Apple Newsstand before its demise next week

First look: Turkish design firm BiTIK launches a native digital magazine, while two tech-oriented print magazines stick to producing PDF replica editions

The Newsstand has not seen many new releases lately, and that is to be expected as it will soon evolve significantly with the release of iOS 9 next week. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been new magazines appearing. Three, in particular, caught my attention as they are either about design or tech and so one’s expectation that they might take digital publishing serious were higher.

BiTIK-iPad-coverThe best of the three is from Turkey. BiTIK Dergi is from the design firm of the same name (Dergi means “magazine” in Turkish).

The digital magazine is free of charge to download and read, with one issue currently inside the app’s library.

The digital magazine is a bit surprising in that it is in English. Half the app description is in Turkish and so one had to wonder about the language.

The digital magazine is to be read in portrait and the layouts are fairly simple, but there is variety here in the way articles appear. Near the front of the first issue stories are one page in length so it almost looks like a replica edition. But as you move on you see that sometimes a story requires one to scroll to a second or third page, and occasionally the stories are designed with over sized pages, again requiring scrolling to continue reading.

BiTIK-articleThe font sizes are find on a standard iPad, a tad small on an iPad mini, but OK. There is the occasional use of animations, as well.

The digital publishing platform used here is a bit of a mystery to me – it looks like Mag+, but I may be mistaken.

If there is a criticism to be pointed out it would be that the digital magazine is missing a couple of things that print magazines always feature. The first is a table of contents. The first issue is not very long so it is not a major issue, but I think there is a lot of creative things that can be done with a TOC in a digital magazine – one could use the cover, for instance.

The second thing missing is a staff box so that those involved get properly recognized, and so readers can contact the editor, publisher, etc. Sometimes, when only one or two people are behind a new digital magazine this seems a bit silly – I know we encountered this when we launched the Tablet Publishing magazine app back in 2013, but we managed to do that plus a few other creative things.

The other two magazines were very disappointing.

CODE-magCODE Magazine is put out by EPS Software Corp. of Texas, and as the name implies, is about programming.

But the magazine appears under the name of the vendor, Magzter, and the only reason I knew who was behind the new app is that I investigated online before downloading the app.

Many the publisher is too embarrassed to put their name on their own app – if so, I wouldn’t blame them. It is not that the app is bad, per se, but it rather reflects badly on their own expertise, doesn’t it? Who would trust a magazine about programming from a company that outsources its own app.

But we all know why publishers do this, these apps are free for the publisher as the vendor uses a revenue-share model. Still, what the end result of the effort is an unreadable digital magazine – unreadable on an iPad, hilariously unreadable on an iPhone.

Interestingly, while the publisher places their magazine articles online for free, they still charge for the print magazine, as well as this new digital edition.

Geek-iPhone6-380Geek Magazine is a French title about tech and science, movies and the like. A magazine for geek culture, if you will, and published under license of the same magazine published in the US by Fusion Publishing. There is no conflict inside the App Store, however, because the US magazine folded last year.

This is another of those magazine titles that appear under the name of a vendor, rather than the publisher, and like the previous magazine, the app description does not link back to the magazine’s website. Were this a print edition, I am sure the publisher would object, but it is digital, and I suppose digital editions just aren’t important enough to put one’s name on it.

Like most replicas, this one also is available on the iPhone, without any alterations. So, as you can see, we get giant black bars on much of the screen.

The demise of the Newsstand probably won’t mean the end of these kinds of publishing efforts, though so many magazines now crowd the app store that it is likely that the flow of new titles may slow down in the years to come. My hope is that publishers uninterested in digital publishing platforms such as the iPhone and iPad will simply stop altogether, leaving the field to those actually enthusiastic about digital publishing. But I doubt it, there are too many companies out there still pushing these kinds of apps, and until they run out of funding we are likely to see more.

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