Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Condé Nast launches new Glamour app, using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite results in monster-sized issues

As promised, Condé Nast has released a new iPad app for its magazine Glamour. The free app is the result of the publishing company now using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to produce its tablet editions. To encourage new readers, Condé Nast is pricing the April issue of Glamour at only 99 cents -- there is also a free preview inside, as well.
In October Robert A. Sauerberg, Jr., President of Condé Nast announced that it would begin producing "digital replica editions" using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite rather than its own native app solutions. It was a contentious issue that resulted in some personnel changes at the publishing company. Now comes the results.

(I should add that the press release misspoke: these are not "replica editions" as all the Condé Nast tablet editions contain added content and more.)

The first thing one notices is that the April is a 553 MB download -- half a gig. But the Condé Nast magazines have always been a big download, and unfortunately things are no different now. The reason for the girth is that Glamour accommodates both landscape and portrait, is loaded with animation and multimedia content, all of it built right into the app. That makes for a great reader experience, but it also means owners of 16 GB iPads will be scrambling for storage if they end up subscribing to a Condé Nast magazine. (Right now one can only buy the one individual issue of Glamour.)
The solution the publisher has built-in is the ability to archive old issues. When the reader chooses to "archive" an issue it is deleted from the tablet, but can be downloaded again later without paying a second time. It saves space, but is a bit of a pain.

As for the app itself, those who love Glamour, or any of the other Condé Nast magazines should love the apps. As mentioned, readers can use the tablet editions in both landscape and portrait, and the added content is certainly a bonus.

The advertising, of course, is vitally important here. Despite almost all the conversation centering on editorial, ad content is part of the reader appeal here and at many, many magazines. In fact, the first sign that a new reader is not a good lead for a magazine is when the reader complains about having to pay for a magazine AND still getting advertising.

The first few ads in the April edition contain no multimedia, but all have both portrait and landscape creative. The first ad with added content is for Maybelline. But most of the ads are "dumb", meaning without added animation or video content. Shockingly, the ad for Origins comes only with portrait creative.
It will be interesting to see what the reader reaction to the new app is. First, even with 15+ million iPads out there female owners are about 35 percent of owners. Second, will readers object to the higher prices Condé Nast wants to charge readers -- the 99 cent deal ends today, soon the price will be most likely the same as print.

Also, what about annual subscriptions? Right now Condé Nast, despite high print production costs, will only charge you $12 for an annual subscriptions -- you can get 36 issues for only $24. Yet many publishers complain about Apple's subscription policies. I guarantee you that publishers will get plenty of negative feedback from readers if they price their digital products significantly higher than their USPS delivered print editions.