Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Beats Magazine: indy publisher, Charles Bowen, brings his print titles to the Apple Newsstand

While most media observers are focusing on the big name publishers, it is the independents that are finding the Newsstand and tablet apps most useful. For some, the future is creating tablet-only publications, while others are hoping the platform gives new life, or a boost to their existing print products.

Charles Bowen, who is publishing his universal apps under the name Snaso Inc., is publishing his magazines under the name Bowens Publishing.

In the past few days Bowens has launched three new tablet magazine apps into the Apple Newsstand. What's Really Good! Magazine is a replica of his print magazine launched in 2008 that concerns mix tapes.
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The Fishbowl appears to be a start-up and is described as "A magazine providing care, love and encouragement for the pastor and his or her family through informative articles, education, and humor. Our vision is that all pastors and their families feel cared for, be strengthened, and be a little more equipped to live out their unique calling."

Beats Magazine, released last night, is also a replica of a print magazine. I don't know how long the magazine has been in existence, but the app has three issues to be found inside.

Bowens is not thinking really big here. The issues inside these apps sell for $0.99, and an annual subscription will cost you $10.99. The website for Beats Magazine brags that it offers "the lowest magazine ad rates anywhere." Full page ads can be had for as low as $240 a page, so he may be right.

Beats Magazine is described in the app description as "the magazine for Hip Hop / Rap Producers," and while I don't think Future PLC or Rolling Stone are shaking in their boots, the fact remains that the future of the tablet edition may be decided and shaped more by the independent publishers pursing the platform than by the big name publishers that get all the attention. I'm not sure these are good examples of the form, with layouts that are pretty amateurish in design, and apps that are merely replicas. But independents are showing that there is great enthusiasm for the space and a great desire to make it work.
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For the past couple of days the tech and web-first crowd has been doing a bit of crowing about the demise of The Daily, though it should be noted that even the most pro-tablet advocates never thought Murdoch's tablet venture had much of a chance. This has led to a bit of piling on, best exemplified by the post from M.G. Siegler.

While I may agree with many of the points Siegler is making in his TechCrunch column, I also think that most of the points made can be refuted by simply pointing at other examples of the art form. In the end the biggest problem I have with the column is the headline which he probably didn't write – Why Magazine Apps Suck - they don't, though some do.

But one point Siegler does makes hit on something important. He points to Marco Arment's new tablet magazine: "To put it simply: Arment, as a one-man shop, made a much better product than all of the multi-million dollar publishing houses could. And it’s directly related to point two."

But all the things Siegler likes about The Magazine can be found in lots of other independently produced tablet magazines, digital magazines that have been for a while now.

File sizes are, in fact, coming down (and not just for replicas like Beats. If tech writers think magazine apps suck they simply aren't trying hard enough to find the ones that don't.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. We at Bowens Publishing know that the quality of our publications have improved since your review and we know we are working hard to make them better. We are thankful that you took the time to acknowledge our efforts and our improvement will continue. Please feel free to revisit any of our publications at any time. Charles Bowens