A series of new apps from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) blur the lines between eBooks and interactive apps. The new iPad apps, all built in partnership with Happy Studio would, in the print world, all be books, but in the digital world can be seen as either an eBook, a special issue digital magazine, or a stand alone app. They are, in other words, their own kind of new media.
Each of the three new tablet apps are built to be used in landscape, which is the way most iPad cover/stands will hold the tablet for viewing while cooking.
Each of the app descriptions say that the apps are free of charge for a limited time. Looking at the previously released CraftStudio app, the business model here may be to view the apps as starter apps that will allow MSLO to later add modules for sale to owners of the app. CraftStudio is currently a paid app ($4.99) that also has individual in-app purchases available for $1.99 a piece.
The older app has received very good reviews from users inside the App Store, so the model seems to be working.
The cookies app is a very large download, 555 MB, and the app description warns potential downloaders that they should be on a WiFi connection when downloading. Inside the app are two additional "books" that can be downloaded, as well. For now both new modules are also free of charge. The Sugar & Spice Cookies section is sponsored by McCormick's (a company, that I'm told, is investing heavily in digital media).
One feature that I failed to capture in the video below is the built-in timer feature, which if you think about it is pretty cool (seen at left, click picture to enlarge).
The app is, as you will see, very well done. But what I think MSLO sees it that the concept can be repeated many times with different themes.
The issue for publishers is whether the idea of launching an app that is free upon launch will be a profitable business model, or whether apps such as these only serve marketing purposes – in this case, promoting the Martha Stewart brand.