Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Crain Communications releases iPad edition of Business Insurance; requires digital subscription to access issues

Chicago B2B publisher Crain Communications released an iPad app for its B2B magazine Business Insurance on Monday. The app, Business Insurance Digital, is free to download, and gives readers access to a sample issue.
To access current issues, however, readers will have to sign into their digital subscription accounts. A digital subscription costs $69 per year, while a print and digital subscription costs $169, though currently lists the price there at $125 per year.

Business Insurance is a BPA audited magazine with a circulation of 45,262 – a readership level the magazine has maintained since it dropped its circ from 50K back in 2001.

Of its total circulation, about two-thirds is qualified, while the remainder is paid. This kind of complicates Crain's efforts to bring this magazine to the iPad: do they attempt to qualify readers, sell them subscriptions through iTunes, or make the app a "reader" app where the reader must already have a subscription.
In this case, the publisher has left this its vendor, Qmags. The reader, once the app is installed, must sign into their preexisting account. The app assumes they already have an account setup. Otherwise the reader can access the sample issue.

As far as replica editions go, I suppose this one is fairly good: the navigation is smooth, and there are links to the jump pages and back, but no option to read a text-only version of the stories.

Strangely, the publisher has created a custom look for the magazine on its website – which itself is pretty outdated looking. Of course, once the reader goes to this page and clicks on a story they are told they have to register with the magazine. Once register access to the content is free. (This new account with Crain does not work with the iPad app, however.)

So why charge for the tablet edition, which is merely a replica, but give away the print magazine and website to qualified readers?

The app is "sold" under the Qiosk name, the one used by Qmags in the app store. The name "Crain Communications" is nowhere to be found. In fact, if you were not familiar with the magazine you might be excused for thinking that the publisher was Qmags themselves. I suppose this might be helpful should the actual publisher decide to begin developing their own tablet publishing products.