Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jann Wenner may be no fan of tablet publishing, but Wenner Media's first tablet edition is surprisingly good

It is commonly understood that Jann Wenner is no fan of the iPad, or at least that is what all the headlines read. But Wenner also said that the "tablet itself is a really fun device. Some people are going to enjoy it a lot and use it." Then adding that "some people aren't."
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AdAge must have a great relationship with Wenner because they recently posted another story, this time about the release of the first iPad edition from the publisher. That article previewed the new app and quoted the editor, Mike Steele, as describing the new tablet editions as "it's just a basic replica."

Well, the new iPad app has now been released and, as it turns out, it isn't a "basic replica." I would describe it as a hybrid tablet edition: the advertising is pretty much as seen in print, but the editorial pages are reformatted somewhat for the iPad. Maybe the Wenner Media team is just trying to be a bit sly.

The app offers readers the ability to pay for a single edition at $3.99, the same price as the print edition. Subscriptions are available at $5.99 per month, a 6-month subscription will cost $32.99, and an annual subscription is priced at $59.99.

The initial issue available, dated May 28, weighs in at a modest 168 MB, mainly due to the layouts being exclusively in portrait.

The publisher's lack of enthusiasm towards the tablet platform can be seen in their decision to not give print subscribers a break – they'll have to pay for the digital edition just like everyone else (and you can be sure they will howl about it inside the App Store).

But US Weekly, I would guess, is a magazine that relies very much on single copy sales, so this might not be a big deal. But if Wenner Media releases an app for Rolling Stone, and tries to pull the same crap, readers will let them know of their displeasure.

As I would consider US Weekly one of those magazines that tries to kill off the brain cells of its readers, I am not be what the publisher would consider a prime target for this tablet edition. But I think loyal readers of the magazine will be pretty happy with the app overall. The most common complaint will be about pricing. But while Jann Wenner may not be enthusiastic about the tablet platform, someone at the company is apparently wise enough to make sure the publisher's first magazine tablet edition wasn't an embarrassing mess.

Left and Right: The editorial layouts are reformatted for the iPad, with simple navigation that does not involve scrolling; Middle: the advertising, on the other hand, is seen on the iPad as in print.