October 28, 2015 Last Updated 2:22 pm

When it comes to digital editions of Women’s Health, Rodale does right by its US edition

Originally released around the time of the launch of the Newsstand, the US edition app offers readers very readable, attractively designed digital editions whether the reader is using an iPad or iPhone

The Newsstand, excuse me, the Magazines & Newspapers category is filled with publications carrying the same name, a consequence of brands having many international editions. There, for instance, 36 different editions of Cosmopolitan in the Apple App Store, not counting secondary apps such as CosmoBody, or the availability of the magazine through a third party app such as Zinio or Magzter.

This used to be confusing when Apple was maintaining the Newsstand because a new international edition of a magazine would be released and would appear for a week or so on the front page of the Newsstand under New. Apple solved this by simply stopping its maintenance of the Newsstand. Now the “New” section is an alphabetical listing of the apps starting with “A”.

WH-TOC-RodaleSo, it is good somethings to compare editions of the same magazine to see the different publisher’s or designer’s approach. The recent release of an app for the German edition of Women’s Health, Women’s Health Deutschland, provides an opportunity to compare this new app to the US edition from Rodale.

The original app for Women’s Health Mag, the name given the US edition inside the App Store, goes back to October of 2011. It’s launch date, by the way, is the exact same as for the Apple Newsstand.

Ten months after launch Rodale added support for the iPhone, and updates followed pretty regularly. Oddly, the app hasn’t been updated since last year, but maybe that is simply because it doesn’t need to be. I see no complaints in the App Store about crashes or other bugs.

WH-iPhone6-380The digital edition is what TNM calls a hybrid edition: advertising as seen in print, with editorial content reformatted. The cover is as seen in print, also, but that scan code is taken off and the cover fits the iPad’s screen perfectly.

The app also provides a native iPhone edition that is very attractive, as well as easily read on a smartphone.

For many production departments it is a tough choice: do you produce a native tablet edition, a hybrid tablet edition, then what do you do about the smartphone edition? Roadie’s team seems to have made the best choice by making sure that readers are presented with an easy to read edition no matter what format they are presented with.

The German edition of Women’s Health appears under developer account Rodale-Motor-Presse GmbH & Co. KG. Other titles under this account include Men’s Health, MUSCLE, and a couple supplemental publications for those titles.

WH-Ger-TOCThe German edition of Women’s Health offers readers a replica edition of the magazine.

The difference can be seen right with the covers: where the US edition takes off the scan code, the German design team doesn’t bother, as sure sign a replica with be awaiting the reader.

Another difference between the two editions is with pricing: the US edition charges $4.99 per issue and only offers an annual subscription, while the German app offers 3, 6 and 12 month subscriptions.

In my mind, the approach being taken by the US edition feels about right. With more young readers using their smartphones to read it is important to offer a specially designed edition, not just a PDF. Because the German edition is a replica, the reader can use the landscape orientation, but this only reduces down the size of the print page even more. The loss of the landscape orientation in the US edition seems worth it when presented with such a nicely designed digital edition.

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