Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vibe Magazine launches its first tablet edition into the Apple Newsstand using a hybrid design approach

Vibe Magazine, the music magazine originally founded by musician/producer Quincy Jones with Time Warner, now has a bright new tablet edition inside the Apple Newsstand. The app presents a hybrid replica-native tablet edition which serves to reduce the file size while allowing all the print advertisers to appear inside the iPad editions.

The approach taken by Vibe is one that is appearing to be increasingly popular: the advertising is presented pretty much unchanged from the print edition, while the editorial team creates new native layouts specifically for the tablet editions.

New iPad hi-res image here.
The approach works fine, though the advertising suffers a bit – two-page spreads, for instance, make little sense on a tablet unless they are interactive. But by going in this direction, the publisher will be encouraging ad agencies to provide new copy for the tablet editions, while allowing the ad team to sell the combined reach. Also, if desired, the ad could eventually sell special ads for the tablet edition some time in the future.

The hybrid approach to creating a tablet edition requires that the app work in portrait only, of course, to accomodate the print ads. But the production team has done a great job here making sure all the ads fit perfectly – some sort of cropping or adjustments generally need to be made to make the ads look perfectly appropriate for a tablet, unless one is lucky enough to have print specs that perfectly downside to the iPad (something many publishers are looking at).

By creating hybrid issues – part replica, part native – one can limit the file size somewhat of the issues, and still use 'retina' resolution graphics. The April/May issues currently available through the app weighs in at 241.4 MB – a very moderate size, though the download was pretty slow this morning.
The splash page.
Vibe Magazine, the app, is offering single copy issues at $2.99, with a monthly subscription available for $1.99, and an annual at $9.99 (six issues).

The app description says a preview issue is available for free, though I could not find any such free issue inside the app.

Vibe has quite a history. Founded in 1992, the magazine was bought by the private equity firm The Wicks Group in 2006. Wicks shut down the book quickly thereafter, in 2009. Then the title was picked up by Uptown from the debt holder, CapitalSource. Uptown was backed in its acquisition by InterMedia Partners. Then in January of 2011 the property was merged with the BlackBook Media business and The Access Network Company.
Left: The Table of Contents with its native tablet page design; Middle and Right: the two-page spread ad for Grey Goose looks great on the new iPad, but doesn't make much sense when split in two.