Back in 2002 Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian launched the local foods magazine Edible Ojai. Two years later, after being featured in Saveur, the two started to receive inquiries from people who wanted to start a similar magazine for their communities. Rather than launching individual magazines themselves Ryder and Topalian decided they would license the idea and create the Edible Communities where each publication would be locally owned and operated.
"Our business model is a hybrid of the VISA model, started by Dee Hock, when he founded VISA," Ryder told The Daily Green in 2010. "Just as each bank that issues a VISA card is a "member" of VISA, each person who publishes an Edible magazine is a "member" of Edible Communities. We operate through license agreements and each of our members have a say in how the company is run and about the decisions we make."
There are now over 70 "Edible" magazine titles, and not surprisingly, a few of them are now starting to appear inside Apple's Newsstand. The latest to have their app launched is Edible Marin & Wine published by Gibson Thomas.
Edible Marin & Wine for iPad appears under the publisher's own name inside the App Store. The app is full of features – though, in the end, the actual digital magazine to be found inside is a replica edition of the print magazine.
The apps are either built, or shepherded, into the App Store by the printer, The Sheridan Group – unfortunately the person who works on these projects was out when I contacted the company. But my guess is that the company that is producing the app is Blue Toad (or Sheridan is a "value-added retailer" of BlueToad products). The reason I suspect this? There is a second app for the same magazine, that also looks exactly the same,. That app is a stand-alone app and shows up under BlueToad's name as seller. That app is simply called Edible Marin & Wine Country, forcing the newest app to have a different name.
This is one of the problems with these replica editions coming from third parties, the vendor often appears as the seller, and once a magazine has surrendered their name to a vendor it can be a pain to get it back.
Thomas told me this morning that the old Blue Toad app for Edible Marin & Wine Country has been in the store for a while, which is why the new app's library will give the reader access to two years worth of magazines. Thomas was not really enthusiastic about launching a tablet edition until it could be available for the iPhone and for Android, in addition to the iPad. (Those haven't launched yet, but should soon.)
Since the magazine, both in print and digital forms, is distributed free of charge, the goal is added distribution (the magazine can be found in print form at local Whole Foods locations, as well as Barnes & Nobles.) Thomas said that readers "use it as a tool for travel" – especially when planning trips to Napa and Sonoma, so the added distribution will assist readers in planning those trips.
With over 70 local magazines in the Edible Communities one can probably expect to start seeing additional apps launched into the App Store and elsewhere. I wonder, though, if there might also be room for digital-only start-ups to join the community, as well. This might open the door to natively designed tablet magazines rather than merely replicas of the print editions.