It’s pretty clear that digital distribution is going to play a large role in the future of magazines and newspapers. That doesn’t mean, however, that print editions are going away any time soon. For the foreseeable future, we’re likely to see print/digital hybrids while consumers and publishers test the waters of both digital products and distribution channels.
The road to digital hasn’t been a smooth ride for many publications. Part of the reason is the lack of resources being devoted to creating engaging and immersive digital content that doesn’t feel as if you’re simply reading a PDF of the print edition.
One big area where publisher are still failing is advertising – despite excellent interactive ad systems like Apple iAd, publishers are still stuck in a print mentality when it comes to ads. In fact, according to a new study, publications often simply toss the exact same print-formatted ads into digital editions that run in their print counterparts.
The iPad’s new Retina display is going to look fantastic. Reading text, for instance, is going to be like reading text in a real magazine, only brighter. This is great news for us, the readers, but not so good for the designers and publishers. Why not? Because many iPad magazines use bitmap images to make their pages. At normal resolution, this works out to perhaps 150-300kB per page, according to David Sleight of Stuntbox. When resized for the Retina display, that goes up to 2MB. Per page.
Apple has been embracing subscription-based iOS applications for some time, such as those that offer magazines and newspapers, but the same model did not appear for iOS games until earlier this week, when the Cupertino company approved a title from Big Fish Games that offered gamers the opportunity to pay a monthly fee of $4.99 to access the companies entire catalog through one app.
When the title hit the App Store, it was reported that Apple had begun accepting subscription-based games for iOS, and that the new release from Big Fish could be the first of many games to offer a similar service. However, Apple has quickly put a stop to those dreams after it pulled Big Fish’s title from the App Store.
Even though the introduction of the iPad-only publicationThe Daily is slated to also herald the coming of iTunes app subscriptions early next year, don’t necessarily expect that move to suddenly make your iPad a digital stand-in for the local newsstand: traditional magazine publishers remain skeptical of Cupertino’s app subscription plan because of the company’s refusal to share credit and billing information.
The iPad is just about perfect for reading magazines; surprising, then, that more publishers haven’t come out with iPad-specific apps, right? Thankfully, publishers seem to be catching on, and last week saw two tricked-out versions of women’s magazines debut as apps on the iPad.