Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wilkes-Barre Publishing releases a series of replica editions; newest iPad app is for The Morning Sentinel

This post is offered, I suppose, as proof that I am not a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of tablet apps -- at least not like the ones described below.

The Wilkes-Barre Publishing Company today released their fifth iPad app into the iTunes App Store, this one for The Morning Sentinel, a Portland, Maine newspaper produced under the MaineToday Media banner.
Like the other four tablet editions, this one is a digital replica of the print edition and is offered completely free to readers.

The app is built by paperlit, a Menlo Park, Calif. start-up. On its website, paperlit says that they offer "One click, hassle free publishing". I often say to digital publishing solution vendors that this is usually their sales pitch -- having heard a number of them while a publisher myself. For some reason they usually deny this, so it is good to see paperlit being honest about this pitch.

But having said that, though, hassle-free publishing is not the same as profitable publishing. So paperlit also says that publishers can "take advantage of a range of different business models when publishing your newspaper, magazine or brochure. You can choose a free application. You can sell your application for a one time payment. You sell your content for a one time payment or on a suscription basis."

Despite having these choices Wilkes-Barre Publishing has chosen to release these five tablet editions as free apps, with free access to content inside. It is, to say the lease, an odd decision.

As of today, The Morning Sentinel is currently offering only one edition of the paper to those who download the app -- the Sunday edition from February 27th -- but I suspect this is the result of the app's release inside the iTunes store catching them by surprise. The similar app for The Portland Press Herald, offers today's edition, as well as others for download.

The three other iPad apps are for The Fort Worth BusinessPress, The Kennebec Journal and The Times Leader, the company's flagship newspaper.

Previously released iPhone apps for Wilkes-Barre Publishing properties were developed by another third party vendor, Verve Wireless.