Thursday, November 8, 2012

GradMags LLC, a digital publishing vendor specializing in academic publications, releases app for UCSF Magazine

I guess it would be a slight exaggeration to say that there are more digital publishing vendors out there than there are magazine companies. If I modified that to say that there are probably more digital publishing vendors out there than there are profitable magazine companies it would be closer to the truth, I suppose.

Each day I discover yet another company offering some sort of way for publishers to get their books onto the iPad or other tablets and smartphones. One I had not heard of is called GradMags, an Austin, Texas company that is selling into the college alumni and academic publishing sphere.

I suppose the reason I hadn't stumbled on them, despite the fact that they have 21 apps in the App Store, is that their apps do appear to support Newsstand (at least, none of their apps are in Newsstand at this time).

The latest app they have released is UCSF Mag – and the name implies, it is a product of the University of California, San Francisco.

Each vendor seems to come up with their own twist that makes their apps a bit different. In the case of GradMags I think it is the navigation along the bottom, at least of this new app for UCSF.

Along with the Library page and Downloads, one finds Make A Gift, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter and About – a nice collection of areas for possible content.
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As for the digital issues to be found inside, well, those end up being the usual replica editions. As these apps are universal, it is worse because what is unreadable on the iPad is ridiculously unreadable on the iPhone – at least with my eyes.

And like the apps looked at that use MagazineCloner, the apps do not support the iPhone 5's larger screen, so the digital magazines take up only a tiny portion of the iPhone's display.

All the apps produced by GradMags appear under the vendor's name rather than that of the publisher. Also, very little effort appears to have been made to make the app descriptions look presentable as many of the apps have only one generic screenshot included in the listing (though the app Kellogg Alum does have the standard three screenshots.)

It would be nice if there was as much effort that went into these digital platform's actual magazine conversions as there is to the shell that houses the issues. The real need of publishers is not how to get PDF versions of their magazines onto a tablet, but how to get a readable, well-designed digital magazine that contains their content onto a tablet or smartphone.

1 Comment:

Gradmags said...

Great points indeed - one thought for those who read this is that the economics and business model of the publisher at hand must be factored into the direction taken and today there are three: 1) digital replica 2) custom template and designed for mobile 3) responsive design.

All three have varying levels of impact on experience vs budget. A deciding factor can often be the ROI equation - our stats show that replicas have a high level of engagement and repeat engagement - especially with incorporation of newsfeeds, text only viewers and the like.

So if you have a big budget, absolutely go for the whiz bang, but if you are testing waters and need to prove a concept, replicas are the industry standard to mitigate risk, then upgrade once the concept has been proven.