Friday, September 28, 2012

America's Test Kitchen shows that a simple approach to tablet editions can work with its release of an iPad edition for 'Cook's Country Magazine'

Going native – that is, native iOS app – does not mean having to go crazy. A simple approach to tablet edition design can work even better sometimes than throwing in all the bells and whistles into an app.

One of the newest additions to the Apple Newsstand, released last night, is from America's Test Kitchen. Cook's Country Magazine is the second tablet edition from the company – the first being Cook's Illustrated Magazine.

The app follows some basic principals of tablet design that go all the way back to 2009, before the iPad was announced: scroll for pages within a story, swipe to progress to the next story.

Recipes are reached through a link found in the story.

The first issue found inside the new app is for the October/November issue and weighs in at 583 MB. The download is fairly swift, though one wouldn't want to download any digital magazine larger than 100 or 200 MB while waiting at an airport.

Despite the fact that the parent company has loads of video one won't find video in this tablet edition, something many cooking magazines are missing (and therefore creating a good opportunity for digital start-ups).

But this app's approach to navigation is perfect for cooking. Most stories contain three layers of content: the first is the story, the second is the recipe, and the third is what the magazine calls "cooking mode". As a cook myself I love the way this is designed.
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I have three issues with the app, though.

The first, of course, is the lack of video. With the issue already at 583 MB one can see that adding video would be probably make the app unacceptable large (it is probably as big as it is due to support for retina displays). So let's move on to the other objections.

The second is that there is no support for landscape. Again, because the app editions are already so large one could dismiss this objection. But most iPad cases/stands, including Apple's own products, support landscape only. Most cooks, therefore, would want to use a cooking app or magazine in landscape.

The third objection, though, is the one that will generate the most complaints inside the App Store: print subscribers must pay again to access the issues.

The publisher explains their reason for charging for digital magazines on the company's website:
At this time, there is no discount for the app for iPad subscription for current print subscribers. Unlike most publishers, which are mostly concerned about selling advertisements, Cook's Illustrated does not accept any advertising or promotional revenue. We are 100% ADVERTISING FREE, and rely on the revenue from our magazine subscriptions and single issue sales to support our product. Considering the costs involved in creating, maintaining and updating our magazine on the iPad, we have no choice but to charge for subscriptions.
This sounds reasonable, though I'm sure that if I were a print subscriber I'd still feel a bit ripped off. But it certainly is nice to see the publisher explaining their position clearly.

Readers want to subscribe to Cook's Country Magazine inside the Newsstand supported app will pay $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. How this exactly works for a bi-monthly though is a little unclear to me. (Does this mean that issues actually cost the reader $3.98 per issue?) Individual issues can also be purchase at $4.99 per digital edition.

The app offers a free trial, as well, which will allow you to download the latest issue and check it out yourself.

1 Comment:

Eladio said...

The whole reason that print subscribers get upset whenever a publisher wants to charge for a tablet edition is that they have become convinced this is the way it's supposed to be -- because that's what publishers do. But where's the rip off? I don't think Cook's is asking anyone to pay twice for the same content; they're only saying if you want the content in print, pay for print. If you want it on your tablet, pay for it that way. But they're not forcing anyone to pay for it both ways.

If I bought a book at my local bookstore, got home, and wanted to be able to read the book on my tablet as well, should I automatically get a free download of that book digitally? If I purchase a ticket to a movie, should I get a free stream/download of the movie when I get home? Why are magazines treated differently than other media/content?