Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More replica editions enter the Apple Newsstand, even as some publishers complain about performance

Few new interesting tablet editions are being released into the Apple Newsstand these days, as more and more publishers are convinced to release replica editions of their print magazines.
This morning replicas appeared for Marketing & Technology Group's Plate Magazine, a publication which in the past has garnered attention for its design, Key Communications's USGlass Metal & Glazing magazine and DWM Magazine, and Dadant & Sons's American Bee Journal.

Each of these new apps offers readers a digital replica editions, sometimes free of charge, sometimes requiring a paid subscription. All four appear to have been developed using BlueToad's system, though they may have been sold to their publishers via their printer, RR Donnelley.

Other replicas appeared in the Newsstand this week, as well, as Tri Active Media launched a series of magazine apps for such titles as Boxing News, Canadian Cowboy Country and Global Aviation. Here the strategy sometimes changes. These replicas are universal apps that will also work on an iPhone. Sometimes the app is free, and sometimes the app is paid which allows the reader one issue download before they are required to subscribe.

Readers don't much enjoy these replicas, if their reviews are to be believed. Most complain of hard to read fonts or low resolution photography. Sadly, because many publishers who are using native design tools to create their own tablet editions are requiring their print subscribers to pay again for digital access, these readers are complaining, as well.

But reader feedback is losing out as publishers continue to release these tablet apps – yet publishers themselves are complaining. Go figure.

Update: Paul Krugman has a blog post today where he observes that some of the players in the European austerity game are "doubling down" on their positions, even in the face of Sunday's election results. He concludes, in a sad tone, with "All in all, nothing learned, and no willingness to reconsider."

The same could be said of digital publishing right now.