Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Huffington Post joins other web properties in launching a tablet magazine; weekly digital magazine skips the bells and whistles of other digital editions

The Huffington Post today launched its long anticipated weekly tablet magazine today inside the Apple Newsstand. The tablet-only magazine is offering a preview issue free for those who sign up for a subscription (possibly in hopes that those who are not impressed will forget to cancel their subscription).
The app description for Huffington. (with the period at the end) states that it is charging $0.99 for individual issues, but $1.99 for a monthly subscription, with an annual subscription priced at $19.99. Some buyers may be confused and think this pricing is wrong, not realizing that the magazine is attempting to publish weekly.

The dynamics of publishing a weekly tablet-only magazine versus a monthly require that the publisher commit to a dedicated staff to pull off the publishing schedule. Other web properties that have launched tablet-only magazines have gone for a less stressful publishing schedule which would allow for the existing web team to handle the digital magazine duties.

But like many of the other web into digital magazine ventures, this one, too, is a simple affair. Pages are designed much like print, and much like a replica edition. No, there are no page folios, but neither are their native tablet design features like scrolling text boxes, animation, or many other digital features seen in digital-only magazines such as Red Bulletin or Project.
Huffington. is a conservative digital magazine from a fairly liberal website. Edited by Timothy L. O’Brien, formerly the editor of the New York Times' Sunday Business section, the digital magazine is looking to repurpose some of its web content while enticing readers with original long form content written specifically for the tablet magazine. O'Brien described that approach as “a classic sort of Sunday magazine experience,” according to the NYT preview of the issue.

The preview issue is a moderate download that produces an issue that is to be read in portrait only. Once opened one can see that the digital magazine will be attempting to encourage the same sort of dialogue found online where typically gathers thousands of comments. In the end, this may be the magazine's most important contribution to the digital magazine form.

Here is a short walk through the beginning of the preview issue, dated June 10: