New digital magazine round-up: a gamebook developer tries out the digital magazine format
‘Choices: And the Sun Went Out’ offers a path-based adventure, updated weekly; ‘Hockey Tribune’ is a new Russian language digital-only magazine; and ‘The New Gentry’ is the replica edition of a new British print title
There was, for a long time here at TNM, not a week that would go by without at least one or two stories about new digital magazine launches. The Newsstand, and digital publishing platforms, encouraged the idea. In the six years TNM has been online this site has looked at hundreds of new digital publication apps, but 2015 has been easily the slowest year for such releases.
As bad as the Newsstand was, it was still possible to keep track of new releases, to create a spreadsheet of the number of titles in each sub-category. Now that the Newsstand is simply a folder, and the category renamed Magazines & Newspapers, many publishers are choosing to launch outside the category, making it that much harder to discover new apps.
But… there are new apps appearing.
I downloaded three apps that I thought might be the most interesting this morning.
By far the most interesting is Choices: And The Sun Went Out, a new “interactive-fiction app magazine” from Tin Man Games, an Australian developer that has 34 other apps inside the Apple App Store. Each one of the other apps is a paid game, priced from $2.99 to $5.99.
Choices is the company’s first app to be launched as a free app and is described as a magazine. The company may be conducting a bit of an experiment in the freemium model, and if so it may be learning what other developers already know: free apps often get the downloads. Of the 35 apps from Tin Man Games, Choices is already listed as the best selling app.
The app lets the “reader” download the app and get into the story for free. Then the reader will need to subscribe to continue, with the story updated weekly.
The “magazine” is really more a game than a magazine in the traditional sense of the term, but what the developer is trying to do here can be duplicated by traditional publishers. The idea that an app should provide readers with some free content is not so radical an idea.
Choices is also unique because it has launched integrating Apple Watch support – and although I don’t own an Apple Watch, you can still see what they are doing in this area by the screenshots they have included in the app description.
Hockey Tribune appears under the developer account name of Andrey Bereznyak, who has also released a digital magazine for football.
The Russian language digital magazine appears to not have a print equivalent, which may have made it an easier decision to create a native digital magazine.
The new magazine is designed in portrait, which makes it a bit easier to duplicate the look and feel of the digital magazine for the iPhone.
I don’t know what the business model here is, as I did not see any advertising, and the app and issue inside is free. They may be offering the magazine free at first to encourage downloads and then plan on charging for issues and a subscription.
The publisher’s other magazine, Football Tribune, does charge 549 rubles for an annual subscription. (549 rubles translates to $7.95, by the way.)
The third digital magazine, The New Gentry, was the only one that also had a print version available. Not surprising then that the app would offer a replica edition.
The magazine is describes itself as “a high-end fashion and British lifestyle magazine focused on the pursuit of elegance, true style and the definition of a ‘Lady’ and ‘Gentleman’ within contemporary society.”
According to the app description, the magazine alternates between a focus on men’s fashion and women’s fashion, which I would think allow it to sell a more diverse group of advertisers, but might make it harder to sell subscriptions (what exactly are you getting, a men’s magazine…?)
The app appears under the developer account of Luke Fussell, who is also the magazine’s editor and publisher.
The magazine is free of charge to access and the link to “subscribe” on the magazine’s <strong>website only led to a newsletter sign-up page, so the obvious business model here is advertising.
Like most replicas, the pages do not quite fit the iPad, and are way off on an iPhone. Pages with large graphics, like full page ads, were fine, but once the editorial content started the magazine because very hard to read on my iPad mini, and impossible to read on an iPhone without the proverbial pinch-to-zoom that is much hated by readers.
But as The New Gentry has a print edition, this was the one digital magazine that had the best page design – it’s just too bad that it doesn’t translate to digital.