Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DownBeat comes to the iPad in the form of a replica

Oh, how the mind begins to wander when I think of what the future holds for music and film magazines. I dream of all that audio and video, the performances videos that will find a home in the magazine form... interviews, live events, reviews that sing and show their content. Oh, how I dream!

But back here on Earth we are stuck with what publishers dream about: incremental increases in paid circulation, easy digital publishing, and no-to-little new costs.

Today the venerable DownBeat entered the Apple Newsstand. DownBeat is legendary. No jazz fan hasn't heard of it, even if they haven't seen an issue in years. Can you think of another magazine that has an About Us section that goes on for 11 web pages?

But since my local Borders closed last year I haven't seen a copy of the magazine in print form for a long while, and since the magazine did not have a tablet edition in the App Store until today there was no way to see it in digital form.

DownBeat Magazine, the app, is a replica edition that prices individual issues at $1.99, with an annual subscription priced at $19.99.

The app description does not give a clue as to what the reader will find inside: no third party vendor is listed, and the screenshots are of the issue covers along with one shot of the library page.

Although I am no fan of replicas, and find them hard to read, I think DownBeat would be one of those titles that would ripe for releasing a second app that featured its archives, which are rich beyond description – at least to us jazz fans.

I called the publisher to learn more about their new app but as of the time I am writing this post have not heard back. I'd like to think that he is still not up yet after a long night of clubbing and hanging around with jazz musicians. But since the title is published in Elmhurst, Illinois, down the road from my office, I tend to think he might be at lunch.**

But I can dream, can't I?

**Later: I just spoke the publisher, Frank Alkyer, who told me that the company behind the replica is Better Press, which the publisher seemed very happy with. So there you go, now you know.
Left: the library page for the tablet edition; Right: being a replica, reading in landscape is a non-starter, though portrait is not exactly an easy read either.