Monday, November 7, 2011

Nomad Editions begins launching individual branded apps

The digital publishing company Nomad Editions has changed the way it has approached its publishing model several times since the company was first launched. The digital publishing start-up headed up by Mark Edmiston originally intended to bring its partnered magazines to all digital devices – the desktop, mobile and tablets (see original TNM December 2010 post here). But the model soon changed to concentrating on the iPad.
In May of this year, to reflect the new are of concentration, Nomad Editions launched its first iPad app, a digital newsstand in the vein of Zinio or Magzter.

Now Nomad Editions has started releasing individual branded apps for the magazines that use its platform. Four individuals apps were released late on Friday for Uncorked, Real Eats, BodySmart and Wide Screen. Each app has the words "by Nomad Editions" added to the end of the name.

The basic idea behind Nomad Editions is that each magazine uses the same publishing platform – the company calls it Treesaver – and also the same publishing business model. That model gives the writers/editors of the individual magazines a 30 percent split of the subscription revenue generated by the title. Originally the magazines were priced at $6 for three months, but now that Nomad is iPad centric the price is 99 cents per issue or $9.99 for an annual subscription. With each add the reader is allowed to download on issue free in order to get a taste of what the magazine has to offer.

The move from a centralized iPad app for all magazines to individual apps makes a lot of sense. In order for the centralized app approach to work Nomad would have had to drive readers to that one app. Based on the total number of reviews inside the App Store it didn't look like that was happening.

Now, however, each title can be promoted on its own, and because the new apps are Newsstand compliant, each title will show up in two categories – its editorial focus (such as Lifestyle, Health & Fitness, Entertainment, etc.) and the Newsstand category itself.

Left: each new branded magazine app opens to the page where readers can download one free issue, buy individual issues, or buy an annual subscription; Right: the platform used to design magazine issues sometimes creates pages that would make an art director cry.

If there remains a major issue with the Nomad Editions, it remains the publishing platform itself. The approach is too much like a digital flipbooks, one in which some of the pages don't really fit the display. Articles spill over on to almost blank pages – some fill the display, some are housed in only a sliver of the page.

On the other hand, the platform may be more attractive to other editors who would like to launch their own titles affordably. Launching a title with Nomad Editions would shift the burden of app creation, as well as ad sales, onto Nomad – assuming, of course, that Nomad would be interested in your title.

But if Nomad Editions is to succeed it really needs to get moving with ad sales – neither of the two titles I read contained any advertising. Without advertising, the model is dependent on reader revenue – and at 99 cents an issue, split between Apple, Nomad and the editor... well, that seems a difficult business model to succeed at.


Tablazines said...

"Launching a title with Nomad Editions would shift the burden of app creation, as well as ad sales, onto Nomad – assuming, of course, that Nomad would be interested in your title. "

The only problem is there is no generally available iOS container for Treesaver. I looked into this after I saw Sporting New's implementation of Treesaver. Even hunted down the guy who created their iOS container and he stated it wasn't currently available to the public.

You might be able to wrap it in Pugpig or the Baker framework though...

Douglas Hebbard said...

I wasn't implying that you would do this on your own, but through Nomad Editions themselves. That is, they would have to agree to pick up your title.

If you produced your own app there would be no reason to use their platform as it produces non-native designs – non-native not only to the iPad, but to magazines themselves.