Monday, September 12, 2011

Tablazines releases third tablet-only magazine, while continuing to experiment with digital publishing solutions

Tablazines is Chris "Cartel" English, and visa versa. And together they, he, has released a new tablet-only magazine into the App Store: Maybach Magazine.
Maybach – officially called Maybach - Urban Lifestyle Magazine, but more on that later – is English's third magazine app to be found in the App Store, all published under the Tablazines name. The app was released last week, and while the app description needs updating because it doesn't give the reader much information about the magazine, it is clear immediately what it is trying to accomplish.

I'm looking at it as Ebony for a younger generation. The first issue is not exactly a good representation of where I plan to be with the magazine, but it's a good start," English told me on Friday.

"Coming up, I read Ebony, I read Jet, because my parents had it there. And when I talk to a lot of people now, especially in the black community, most of them don't even pick up magazines anymore, physical magazines."
English is one of those 'let's just go do it' publishers who has adopted the tablet platform early on and is continuing to experiment. Tablazine's first magazine, Hoodgrown, has been written about several times on this site, and has garnered a bit of well deserved press. But for that first magazine, English chose to work with Alligator Digital Magazines, the Los Angeles-based company he first read about on this site. For his newest magazine, English is doing more of the work on his own and is experimenting with a different platform, Pugpig.

"With the very first issue of Hoodgrown that was all HTML and CSS," English said. "The new issues have been done with Quark … and exported into JPGs and the HTML layer added on top, because I was able to control the text even a little better than I could with the CSS, and it allowed me to do it faster."

"I can basically do the same thing using Pugpig's solution, as well, but I didn't do a lot of interactivity in this first issue because I really just wanted to get it out there, and I wanted to play with the system to see what it can do."

Maybach's first issue is definitely more replica than native in appearance thanks to the change in platform. But like Hoodgrown, the app is free to download and is universal – meaning readers can access the magazines on either their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. But unlike Hoodgrown, the Maybach app does not install a digital newsstand, though Pugpig's platform does allow for the building of a newsstand (for a price).

Using Alligator for Hoodgrown, the vendor does a lot of the work, including the Xcode work, and uploading the issues into the App Store. With Pugpig, English manages the app himself, though this led to a bit of a problem with Maybach.

English told me that the magazine was originally going to simply be called Maybach Magazine, which is reflected in the app icon, but he "screwed up the bundle ID and deleted it", English said. This forced him to call the new app something else – hence the longer and more descriptive title.
For English, who does his magazine publishing currently as a side venture, the release of the iPad and the ability to publish digitally for tablets has meant a return to publishing. Hoodgrown was originally a small print run magazine. But while the print magazine was well received, it was impossible to increase the print runs as necessary because the financial support for the book came out of English's pocket, thus the end of Hoodgrown.

"Our second issue featured the rapper, The Game, on the cover and from there I connected with his publicist Shemia Miller. She was so impressed with the magazine that she represented the magazine for nothing and landed us deals with Tower, Trans Media and Foot Locker," English told Digital Magazine Publishing last year (website now shutdown).

"The problem was that I was printing 5000 copies per issue from my paycheck and received an initial order of about 50,000. Not having the best of credit (there’s a lesson there) I wasn’t able to raise the money to fulfill the order and just got disenchanted and ceased publication of the print magazine."

"But I knew I was going to do Hoodgrown again," English told me Friday. "And I knew somewhere, somehow it would come up again." Enter the iPad.

"This is perfect for me," English said of the iPad platform. "I can do the things I want to do and do it directly to digital. No middle men, no distributors. When I started I had no idea how I was going to get it done."

For the time being both Hoodgrown and Maybach will be free of charge for readers. "I want to hold off on the charges until the end of the year, that will make it a full year." After that English may charge a nominal amount for the issues, but the intention is to have the digital magazines supported by advertising. For now Tablazines has some part time sales representation but a more seasoned rep may be in the works, and it was feedback from that person that helped convince English to launch Maybach.

"Because of the name Hoodgrown, how will we get high-end advertising?" English wondered. "I already had an idea to do a Maybach magazine and once she said that (that it would be hard to sell high-end ads into Hoodgrown) it just seemed the right time because Maybach can get into the places Hoodgrown couldn't just because of the name alone."

So for now Tablazines is using multiple platforms and gaining experience. Already English has been approached by other publishers wondering if he can produce their magazines. It may be a logical next step for a guy who has already launched several magazines into the App Store.

Right on cue Tablazines has released a press release promoting the new magazine. Here is the release in full:
Tabalazines, a new media company spearheaded by Lord Jamar (of Brand Nubian) and Chris "Cartel" English producing digital publications designed for the iPad as well as the iPhone and iPod Touch, and is pleased to announce the launch of Maybach Magazine. Maybach Magazine is an urban lifestyle magazine dedicated to informing, entertaining, educating and inspiring progressive African–Americans. Editorial content highlights the best in politics, entertainment, beauty, fashion, health, fitness and travel.

"African Americans seem to have a disconnect with certain older urban publications," said Chris English, publisher of Maybach. "We're launching on a new and exciting platform and hope to attract a younger set of readers who will hopefully grow with us."

Maybach is Tablazine's second iPad based publication. The first being the hip hop publication, Hoodgrown Magazine.

Maybach Magazine is available as a free download in the iTunes App store.