The typical B2B publisher will produce multiple titles because only in a group publishing environment do the financial dynamics work in their favor.
KHL Group, a UK publisher of B2B titles tied to the construction industry, is a firm I'm fairly familiar with as I was a publisher of construction magazines with two B2B publishers including The McGraw-Hill Companies.
Recently KHL Group began launching titles into Apple's Newsstand. Beginning last week Construction Europe, American Cranes and Transport, International Construction and International Cranes & Specialized Transport appeared in the Apple Newsstand.
Each of the apps was developed through MagazineCloner. Although MagazineCloner's website mentions custom iPad editions, the actual digital magazines found inside the App Store are inevitably replica editions.
These replicas are really no different than other replicas other than the fact that they are universal apps. In some ways, this is a ridiculous option as the iPhone versions do not accomodate the iPhone 5, but even if they did, they reduce the A4 print page to something so small that the idea that these could be read borders on the physically impossible.
That aside, the apps present a mix of really good features with minor annoyances. For instance, the apps open with a sponsor page (see below middle). This is a great idea for B2B since these are replicas and there will be no other new advertising opportunities to be had. They also attempt to get the reader to create an account through the vendor. The idea is that the reader will want to be able to access the issues on their desktops as well – the product is called PocketMags, and this is why the app is universal, as well as offering the desktop reading option.
Assuming this information is then shared with the publisher, it is one way for publishers to try and qualify their new readership. The problem, though, is that it takes quite a number of taps to finally access the issues.
Like most B2B publishers of qualified circulation magazines, KHL Group is offering their app editions free of charge. This encourages downloads and access, but does little to add qualified circulation. The goal, of course, is to show their print advertisers that they are extending the reach of their ads by creating tablet and mobile editions.
I really wish that the ABM or publishers themselves would work with Apple to allow for registration prior to downloads. Apple objects because they do not want to share information about their customers. Fair enough, publishers don't want to share either. But a registration mechanism inside Newsstand editions makes sense because the customer has to opt in. If Apple won't do this then Google should allow it – this would encourage publishers to adopt Android as their preferred platform for tablet editions.
I'm not a fan of replicas, but understand that until there is a low cost digital publishing platform that will work for B2B publishers that this may be the way to go for B2B titles. But let's not fool ourselves into believing that reducing a print page 8.3 inches high for a smartphone with a display that is only 3.5 inches tall is a wise thing to do.