Monday, November 12, 2012

California photographer launches her own tablet magazine using the PDF-based MagCast platform

While publishers continue to search for the perfect digital publishing platform that will easily and inexpensively create their tablet editions, many others are going the replica route for those very same reasons. Meanwhile, self-publishers, often with no professional magazine experience, are able to launch their tablet magazines thanks to these very same replica platforms.

Mary Bartnikowski is from Palo Alto, California, but as the name of her new tablet magazine suggests, she is a world traveler. Vagabond Photography Travel Mag has just been released into Apple's Newsstand and features the photographers work in a simple presentation.
"So there I was in the heart of Palo Alto, California, down the street from Steve Jobs, home of all things silicon chipped, 25 years of a successful photography career: great clients, author of a book, what was missing?" Bartnikowski writes in her new digital magazine.

"I didn't know the name of it yet but when my 18-year-old son asked me to visit him in Nepal while he was a volunteer teaching I said hell;, yes!"

The contents of Vagabond, then is the product of her travels, as well as her thoughts on living on the road.

As for the digital magazine, it was created using MagCast, a third party vendor that takes the publisher's PDFs and creates a digital magazine. The cost is $497 per month (though the company is currently taking $200 off that price) and whatever revenue you can generate is yours.

MagCast apps require that you have an Apple developer license, so this app and others appear under the name of the publisher. For now at least MagCast is iPad only, but it does support the Newsstand.
Because it is PDF based, the quality of the digital magazine will completely depend on the quality of the PDFs and whether the designer is thinking iPad or is still thinking print magazine.

Here, with Vagabond, the photography is absolutely gorgeous, as you'd expect. But the pages contain text almost seem like the original destination was a print magazine as the font sizes are too small. A magazine designed for digital first shouldn't require pinch-to-zoom in order to read. This can all be adjusted, of course, in future issues.

What is interesting about using a PDF platform for a tablet-only magazine is that the goal is to hide the fact that it is PDF based and try to look 'native'; while the goal of using the same platform for a replica is to hide the fact that it is digital and try to replicate print.

Vagabond issues are $3.99 a piece, and there is a two-month and annual subscription option.