Monday, April 30, 2012

The Bark premieres inside Apple's Newsstand with a replica edition iPad app from BlueToad

Quite a number of years ago I worked for an online video start-up in Chicago. The company wanted to break into the online video world by producing video content in a number of categories. When I was there my own vision was to partner with for great magazine and retail brands – brands that were somewhat behind in their digital media strategies and could use the video content, but whose brands would be a big plus for us.

In the food category I contacted several New York-based magazines and eventually found what I thought was the perfect title: one that was fantastic in print, but pretty far behind the competition online.

New iPad hi-res image
When told by the CEO that the video company wanted to work in the pet category I immediately started searching for a great pet magazine to work with. The usual suspects, frankly, are not very well run, and editorially not very exciting. But The Bark, a Berkeley, California magazine, seemed perfect, however. Here was a magazine with personality.

The Bark is run by the team of Claudia Kawczynska and Cameron Woo. Together they have created a magazine for the category that is so unique that it easily stands out from the crowd when you see the title at a PetsMart or other locations. For the publishing team at The Bark, the magazine is not about breeds and dog shows, but as their new app's description says, the magazine is "devoted to exploring the bond between people and their dog."

Unfortunately, that online video company never worked with The Bark, or any other magazine, for that matter. The first dog video that the production company produced was all about dog grooming and was so the opposite of what The Bark is about that I never showed them the finished product. A few weeks later the company and I agreed that we were not a good fit. No kidding. All the magazine partners remain publishing while that video company remains a non-player.

This morning The Bark made its initial appearance inside Apple's Newsstand. The Bark, the dog culture magazine HD is a free app that offers app versions of the digital flipbooks the magazine has produced by BlueToad.

There is not much to say about these replica editions, of course. They are hard to read and are not designed for the iPad but for print. For a smallish magazine like The Bark, I suppose going the replica route is logical, if disappointing.

The issue I looked at did feature embedded video, ironically. Though rather crudely produced, the video is far more appropriate for The Bark than what was created by that Chicago company I mentioned above. The video, though, is not unique to the iPad edition, as it is also embedded into the Flash flipbook version created by BlueToad and found on the magazine's website. The same few pages that can be viewed for free online (before you are required to purchase) make up the preview inside the iPad app.

For those readers who can not access the print edition at a local newsstand, this might prove to be a good way to become acquainted with the title. For loyal readers, however, it would be a far better reading experience to stick to the print edition.

Here is a short walk through the latest issue of The Bark as seen on the iPad.