Thursday, November 15, 2012

New tablet magazine, Photography Masterclass, designs for the iPad by using replica edition techniques

What do they say, oh yeah, once is chance, twice is coincidence, third time is a trend. Well, this is the second new photography tablet magazine TNM has looked at this week that is using the Magcast platform.

Magcast is basically a replica edition-like system where the publisher uploads PDFs to the company's servers, optimizes the digital edition (meaning adding any interactive elements) and then hits "publish". The cost is around $500 per month, though the company is currently offering a discount on that price.

The way it is being used in the two magazines I've looked, first Vagabond, and now Photography Masterclass, makes this a cross between a replica edition and a tablet edition specifically designed for the iPad.
The magazine, edited by Gill Roberts, and published into Apple Newsstand using the name Hysteresis LLP, takes a template designed by Lise-Mari Coetzee, and then creates pages which are made into PDFs and uploaded to create the app. Is this native design? Yes, I would say it is. It may be exactly the kind of simply solution many readers of TNM are looking for. (There does appear to be, by the way, a symbiotic relationship between MagCast and Coetzee.)

Most publishers of replica editions do the exactly same thing, but they design first and only for print. The problem, which is obvious to all readers, is that to make the page work for the tablet, the page needs to be reduced in size. The result is a page which is nearly impossible to read without a magnifying glass or pinch-to-zoom.

I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing publishers reduce down their print magazine to a size very nearly that of the iPad. This would force art directors change their templates but would mean that the font sizes they choose for print will be replicated on the iPad – and isn't that what a replica edition should be, a replica of the print edition? Maybe we should start calling those tablet editions that shrink down their pages mini mags (or micro mags).

As for the first issue inside the app, the premiere issue weighs in at 170.14 MB, its size reduced through the use of portrait-only orientation. This becomes a bit of problem in sections where the photography is in landscape. But the orientation limit and the lack of video makes this a nice sized tablet edition.
These kinds of PDF driven tablet magazines do, I most admit, make me a little quesy. I hate the idea of giving up scrolling text boxes, and even scrolling within stories, altogether.

But California Masterclass Magazine IS easy to read and navigate, and that is one of my biggest objections to replica editions. If Magcast would continue to refine its system so that it would allow for scrolling within stories (and then swiping to the next story), would add support for the iPhone and Android, I think I would seriously consider using it myself. The system does allow for AdMob and iAds, by the way.

There are now over 100 magazines inside the Apple Newsstand using MagCast, though you will not find them searching for the name as the system requires you to have your own Apple developer license. This is a major plus, by the way, as any publisher willing to have their magazine published under the name of the app developer deserves to go out of business.


Anonymous said...

Can't find the magazine referred to in print form.
Is this article accurate?

Douglas Hebbard said...

That's because it doesn't exist in print, only in digital form.

As I said in both the headline and copy, it is using print techniques to create a digital-only magazine - that is, design a page like it is to appear in print, make an image file, create the app version.

The difference is that the fonts used and page sizes are designed for easier reading on the tablet. This is different than a replica in that the page is designed for the larger print page, then shrunk down for the tablet.

Hope that clarifies things.