Monday, April 16, 2012

Bar Magazine launches a tablet edition inside Newsstand using the CoverPage digital publishing platform

The single most frequently asked question of me by readers, and by people on professional publishing boards, is what digital publishing solution do I recommend them using to create their tablet (or mobile) editions. Usually the person asks the question uses the words "inexpensive" and "easy" somewhere in their question. While I understand the need for cost control, the "easy" part often leads people to do dumb things – after all, this sort of insults the talents of the art directors who, if they could learn InDesign and Photoshop, shouldn't have much a problem with most of the new digital publishing solutions either.

One digital publishing solutions provider I was not familiar with, CoverPage by Monogram Interactive, out of Slovakia, has quite a number of magazine apps inside the App Store, and this morning a new one appeared inside Newsstand.

New iPad quality image here
While many of the apps are appearing under the vendor's name, others are now appearing under the name of the publisher such as this new app for Bar Magazine. Bar Magazine is published by HELLO Slovakia and the editor-in-chief is Lenka Jilekova, whose LinkedIn page makes you wonder if she is old enough to drink (ah, to be young again).

Robert Mindzak, CEO and founder of CoverPage, told me that "we urge our publishers to set up their own accounts" with Apple, hence this new app is appearing under the publisher's name rather than the vendor's.

The CoverPage system is somewhat similar to the Mag+ or Aquafadas system in that it involves a viewer app that can be downloaded for free from the App Store. Inside Coverpage Viewer you can see sample issues (see below, right). Bar Magazine uses the newer version 2.0 of CoverPage.
Initially Bar Magazine appeared inside Newsstand but without a completed issue – no doubt the publisher was waiting the for release into the App Store before uploading the issue (I tend to catch these apps a bit early, often before even the publisher is aware their app is live). But after an hour or so the issue was ready to download.

The issue available is just under 300 MB and is a slow download. But once downloaded you see that the issue was designed to be read in portrait, but can be read, as well, in landscape. I actually like this a lot and is an interesting compromise solution. One sees the full page in portrait, and the magazine is fairly easily read in this orientation, but turning the iPad enlarges the page making the fonts that much larger.

The edition available has some cute animations, and combined with the ability to read in landscape, is probably why it weighs in at so large a file.

The CoverPage website is not the most helpful in selling their publishing solution. Although the site has some nice videos, the website doesn't walk you through the process. So I contacted the company about their digital publishing solution and their CEO Mindzak promised to send along more information. In the meantime he was kind enough to call me and explain the process a bit.

"Our solution ... first you have a free plug-in for InDesign for CoverPage, but you can also use your PDF files that are uploaded to our server. The server will give you back the pages to your offering tool," Mindzak told me.

"But the third way you can just use your JPGs or PNGs like regular pages," hence how replicas are produced. Mindzak is finding that many publishers are taking the easy way out, though Bar Magazine is clearly going in the other direction.

Here is one of videos you will find both online at the CoverPage website as well as at their YouTube branded channel: