Wednesday, February 8, 2012

GIE Media launches an iPad edition for its bi-monthly trade industry title American Manufacturing

The Ohio headquartered B2B media company GIE Media has launched a new iPad app edition for one of its trade titles, American Manufacturing. While the app breaks no new ground when it comes to how to distribute a controlled circulation magazine on tablets, it does do a decent job of bridging the gap between native tablet design and replica edition.
The free app, American Manufacturing, is a stand alone app, offering no Newsstand support. As a result, there is no way to subscribe to the tablet edition. Additionally, there is also no notifications support, so the publisher would not be able to alert readers that a new issue is available. Finally, there is also no registration mechanism.

As you can see, the app does not really address the fundamental issue of controlled circulation publications for tablets: how to limit the distribution of the product to only "qualified" readers, and either locking out all others, or charging them a subscription fee.

The app does, however, attempt to bridge the gap between replica and native designs.

Upon installing the app one is taken to the library where one issue is available – January/February. (There is also "News Feeds" that can be downloaded, presumably an RSS feed.)

The issue available weighs in at 205MB – a moderately large file. The reason for its size is that the app works in both portrait and landscape ... sort of.

In fact, only the editorial pages have been redesigned to work in both orientations, while the ads from the print magazine have been left in their original, portrait layout. The editorial pages have also been enhanced with additional tablet features such as pages that scroll, embedded photo galleries, and the like.

To accomplish this, it appears that only the full page ads have been brought into the tablet edition, allowing the designers to design new editorial pages without having to work around modular ads.

I think it works to a certain degree. Yes, it would have been nice to have new ad copy for the full page ads, but getting B2B clients or their agencies to supply new artwork for the tablet edition would probably have been a nightmare.

Left: the column from the associate publisher/editorial director is re-designed for the tablet edition; Middle: ads, however, are left in their original portrait layouts, though embedded video can be found on some; Right: the TOC, redesigned for the iPad app.

American Manufacturing, the print magazine, is an unaudited bi-monthly with a rather incredibly low page rate of $1750 per page. It also purports to distribute to Central and South America. So we are not talking about a multi-million dollar venture here.

I mention this because all this has to be taken into account when measuring the business potential of a tablet edition for a B2B title. Do you, for instance, charge an additional fee to appear in the tablet edition? Do you charge readers who are not qualified? These are just some of the issues B2B publishers will have to work through as they begin to experiment with tablet editions.

For GIE Media, they have taken a first step with one of their titles.

(Lawn & Landscape, a much healthier B2B title owned by GIE Media, also has an iPad app. But that app avoids all these issues by simply being a replica edition created by Texterity (and "sold" under the Texterity name, rather that that of GIE Media). That app, too, is not in Newsstand, and does not charge for content.

Lawn & Landscape is a pretty thick magazine compared to American Manufacturing, and a monthly to boot. That would put quite a strain on a creative department if the publisher decided to launch a native designed app such as the new one for American Manufacturing.)