Friday, October 12, 2012

New magazines from independent publishers begin to flood the Newsstand; title confusion occasionally ensues

It's taken a while, but two and a half years after the launch of the original iPad a flood of new digital magazines is starting to appear from independent publishers – citizen publishers, if you will.

The vast majority of the new tablet magazines are built using digital publishing platforms that usually are used for replica editions. The idea, of course, is to simplify the process – create a designed page, convert it to a PDF, and upload it to the third party vendor's servers. Easy.

The problem, though, is that the lack of a native solution makes these digital products look about as appealing as those do-it-yourself greeting cards

The other problem is often that citizen publishers are not very good at self-promotion. A new magazine that hit the Newsstand recently, Organic Life Magazine, features only a single screenshot in the app description, and that shot doesn't give the reader much of an idea of what they will find inside.

The app itself is not of any help, either. The app simply opens to the library and requires a $4.99 purchase to see anything of the magazine because it lacks a preview. (The publisher's website is not very helpful either.)

The name of the magazine, Organic Life, caught my attention because I once was the publisher of a natural food magazine (no reps, one editor, no art director – an amazing cluster fuck).

I wondered if this new tablet edition was for a title I was familiar with – it's not, its a new title. But a search online pulls up a lot of "organic life" websites, but luckily no other "Organic Life" magazines.
The same is not true for Click Magazine. There are two magazines using that name, and ironically both launched inside Apple's Newsstand within 24 hours of each other.

One is formally titled Click Magazine for the Modern Photograp[her] and is a start-up that is using the MAZ Digital system which costs $299 per month to use and is one of the many, many (many) replica edition makers.

Also launching is Click Magazine for Kids from Cricket Magazine Group. Their app features a digital magazine with more interactivity.

Both magazines offer previews, of sorts, though the one using MAZ Digital only lets you see a few pages shrunk down to a few inches. Also, the app is sold under the MAZ Digial name rather than the publisher's, has the MAZ logo splashed all over it, and all the links go back to MAZ rather than to a direct contact with the publisher.

The new magazine, if you do some web searching, is actually a replica of a new print magazine that originates from – not a site I frequent, obviously.

It is possible that the new magazine does not run into trouble from the publisher of the magazine with the established name. Technically they are different, though I have known situations where big publishers sic the lawyers on the unsuspecting newbie publishers. (I have even been involved in a case where the big publisher was trying to intimidate us into surrendering our own name so they could use a variation of it themselves.)

In the very early days of Apple's App Store, Apple mistakenly let several apps through their system that stole the name and even the content of established publications. Eventually those apps were pulled out of the store, but a publisher – whether a new one or established one – should do a thorough search of the app stores before launch to make sure their brand is both protected and not in conflict with another publication.