December 15, 2015 Last Updated 9:13 am

2015 Year in Review – Magazines: The end of the Newsstand, not the end of digital magazines

Part One: Despite the demise of the Apple Newsstand, a number of excellent new digital magazine apps were released in 2015, here is a rundown of some of those that were mentioned on TNM

The end of the year always brings way too many “Year in Review” stories, I think every site does them. One reason is that they are easy to produce. I like to think that publishers like them because they have been asleep most of the year and finally get to catch up with what their editors have been doing all year. Being both the publisher and editor of TNM I know this is true (I’m always half asleep).

So, here is TNM’s Year in review for 2015 that looks at digital magazine publishing:

Digital Editions:

This year spelled the end of Apple’s Newsstand – a decision that was wise, if only for the fact that no one seems to have objected, or expresses reject in its passing. The fact is that Apple made a royal mess of the Newsstand, and seem determined to continue making a mess of the new Magazines & Newspapers category, as well as its new Apple News app (which many wouldn’t mind seeing go away, as well).

Woolworths-coverA lot was invested in the Newsstand, as several revenue-share publishing platforms built their businesses on the idea that all one needed to do was launch a digital magazine into the device and soon money would be flowing in. It did, I suppose, but only to the platforms, and only through sheer volume of apps.

The word was out that the Newsstand would go away once the first beta for iOS 9 was released. Apple, in typical fashion, gave no guidance concerning the Newsstand until almost the very last moment (August 21), but by then the pace of new digital magazine releases had slowed to a trickle.

The reason for this cannot be placed solely on the condition of the Newsstand, or that it was about to go away. The fact is that nearly every consumer magazine in the US and Europe, by 2015, already had released some sort of digital edition app. Only in the area of B2B could it be said that publishers were still on the sidelines.

But despite that 2015 is without a doubt the slowest year for new digital edition apps since 2010, there were still a number of really good new apps released. Here is a sampling (the date in brackets is the date of TNM’s report on the app):

Woolworths Fresh magazine: {January 15}

  • Woolworths Fresh magazine is one of the best digital magazines for a grocer yet produced. The magazine is published by News Custom Content, and the managing editor for the digital magazine is listed as Marc Gassman, with the design by Charlie de Demo and Aaron Cliff.

One Small World: {March 16}

  • One Small World from Joe Arredondo, an artist and graphic designer from Toluca, México, who takes the Newsstand approach and turns it on its head… Arredondo’s approach is to use the Newsstand to distribute eBooks rather than digital magazines. The app currently contains two such books: One Small World and Windmill Tale. As you would expect from someone who is trying to create eBooks via the Newsstand, the resulting “issues” are definitely “native” – that is, strictly created as a digital product, and though the app description only mentions the iPad, the app works on the iPhone, as well.

In These Times: {April 1}

  • In These Times is the kind of publication I thought would be a natural for a digital newsstand such as Apple’s or Google’s, as there are few print newsstands left that would carry many political titles – certainly few outside of major urban centers.

MetalsMag-1Metals Magazine: {June 12}

  • These new native digital magazines from Primetals Technologies are far better examples of where the future lies for B2B digital magazines, though it is likely that companies will remain far ahead of B2B publishers in regards to digital publishing.

National Theatre Backstage: {August 6}

  • The app is beautiful and has the advantage of tremendous photography, often of very recognizable actors.

Szosa: {August 17}

  • Happily, there are still the occasional new native digital edition released that gives one hope that the replica makers have not destroyed digital magazine publishing for every reader and every publisher… A new cycling magazine, published out of Wroclaw, Poland is a good example. Szosa, which means Road, has launched inside the Newsstand with native digital editions for both the iPad and iPhone.

Texture-homepage-330Texture: {September 30}

  • The Texture experience is a dramatic, and effective, rethinking of the company’s digital newsstand experience. With Texture, the reader is presented with new features such as New & Noteworthy Stories and Collections: A Daily Roundup, while continuing the ability to download whole issues from the portfolio of 160 magazine titles.

RIT Media Sciences: {October 14}

  • RIT Media Sciences serves as a digital brochure for the school, explaining the curriculum and faculty, while generally promoting the school and its media studies.

OutofChaos-ani2The Out of Chaos Magazine: {October 61}

  • …a digital magazine that seems to do everything right – from building native digital designs, to making sure traditional magazine elements like staff boxes are included. As the digital magazine issues are free, and involve a subject I know many TNM readers will find interesting, there is no reason not to download the app and check out the magazine for yourself.

History Today: {November 2}

  • The new app is a significant move for the magazine. Previously, the app appeared using one of the PDF-based platforms that use a revenue-share model – something that was quite common for publishers who were eager to have their magazines available to mobile and tablet device owners in the early days of the Apple App Store.

Choices: And the Sun Went Out: {December 10}

  • 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.

Part Two can be found here, and talks about the magazines we said good-bye to in 2015, as well as other transitions.

  • Drew Williams 10 months ago

    Completely agree that apple has missed the mark on the mobile magazine market. With many Men’s magazines changing the way they do business it leaves an open opportunity for online magazine apps to capitalize. Would love to see Swagger Magazine make this list as well as an up and coming.