March 6, 2017 Last Updated 3:30 pm

Digital magazine newsstand Magvault to close down, citing ‘lack of traction with publishers’

The Uk based digital magazine newsstand Magvault has announced that it will close down. Launched in November 2013, still during the digital magazine gold rush, Magvault was designed to create a one-stop location where readers could find digital edition apps regardless of platform.

The problem Magvault was designed to solve was discoverability.

“We created Magvault to be as easy as a trip to the newsagents – better, really, because you get to browse only the categories you really like and you get better deals by going online,” Neil Morgan, founder of Magvault, told TNM just before launch.

“We believe that app stores do not promote magazines sufficiently and tablet users are often unaware of their existence. Too often new magazine users are simply confused by ‘free’ container apps and simply feel ripped off when they are asked to pay. It takes much detective work to discover what magazines are interactive, who offers free trials and free samples and what publications are offered on what devices.”

The service provides links to the publisher’s websites, as well as app stores by Apple, Google and Amazon.com, so that the reader has the choice of format and platform, as well.

Unfortunately, by the end of 2014, many publishers became less committed to their digital edition apps, many abandoning interactive digital editions for PDF replicas, which were cheaper and easier to produce and could be platform neutral. In addition, as one digital publishing vendor told me in 2015, Apple had by the end of 2013 decided that the Newsstand was not working out as a lucrative feature. The company soon began working on what it saw as a replacement, Apple News, though it took until the release of iOS 9 to finally kill off the Newsstand.

Magvault was probably the most ambitious attempt to come up with a workable alternative to the Newsstand, and a way for readers and publisher to meet up, just as a print newsstand accomplishes. It was a great idea, and it is sad to hear that it will close down.

(As TNM has reported for several years now, Apple stopped maintaining the subcategories of the Newsstand, and now the Magazines & Newspapers category, in an embarrassing show of incompetence by the App Store team, as well as a big middle finger to publishers who work with Apple. Over dozen conversations with Apple developer support and App Store team members has failed to reveal a reason for the lack of maintenance, or a reason why Apple would disrespect its publishing partners to such a degree.)

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