Friday, May 4, 2012

Cambridgeshire publisher of photography magazines, Bright Publishing Ltd., goes the replica route – and makes their print subscribers pay once again for the digital edition

Most iPad owners have long ago noticed that their tablets are tailor made for viewing photographs. Now, with the introduction of the new iPad, with its higher resolution display, photography pops off "the page" even more dramatically.

One of the first apps produced for the iPad from a major publisher was The Guardian Eyewitness, a photojournalism app that predates the British newspaper's own tablet edition of the newspaper by over a year. Recently The Guardian updated the app to make to compliant with the new iPad's 'retina' display.
Because of the way the iPad is photo friendly, you would think that the publishers of photographic magazines would be eager to take advantage of the iPad by building native tablet editions. Bonnier's Tech Group, for instance, used the Mag+ platform to create its two photography tablet editions, American Photo+ and Popular Photography+.

Another British publisher has gone in the other direction. Bright Publishing Ltd. has recently launched three new iPad editions for its titles Digital SLR Magazine, Photo Professional Magazine and Advanced Photographer Magazine.

These replica editions are very typical of all replica editions in that they are pretty much exact copies of the print edition, though like all digital replicas, there is an opportunity to add video and audio, hot links, etc. But despite the absence of additional production work needed to create a native tablet edition, these replicas generally cost more to the reader, often because the publisher enters into a revenue share situation with the vendor – in this case, PixelMags.

In this case, the magazines cost $5.99 a piece, with subscriptions available for 6 months at $30.99, or an annual subscription at $59.99. (Digital SLR is priced at a lower level.)

Both the Bonnier and Bright Publishing apps stick it to print subscribers, which is by far the biggest complaint readers seem to have with Bonnier's native apps. I think this leaves the door wide open for a more digitally savvy publisher (or start-up) to enter the field with a native app that takes advantage of the new tablet platform.