Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Condé Nast France releases its version of Glamour, one of many editions to be found inside Apple's Newsstand

One of the wonderful things about digital newsstand is the ability to find new titles, including international magazines. One of the promises of digital formats is that one day those international titles will come with good, accurate translation services. But I am probably to have to wait a while for that.

The downside of digital newsstand, however, is glut. Browsing and searching for new periodicals to read is difficult, almost impossible in the Apple App Store. Some digital newsstands are better than others, but they all come down to something rather simple: the depth of the categories used when publishers submit their apps (or files) to the newsstand.

Because of this, the newsstands are often a bit of a mess. This situation becomes a bit of a problem when a publisher owns multiple versions of their own title.

Take the new app for Glamour from Condé Nast – or more accurately, the newly released app GLAMOUR MAGAZINE FRANCE from Condé Nast Digital France. The French version of the popular magazine title is now the seventh version of Glamour available inside Apple's Newsstand. The scary thing is that I am quite sure I could have missed a couple versions, too. After all, not all magazines are published under the same name in an international market. For instance, the Greek version of Marie Claire, a magazine published by Hearst in the U.S., is called ΜΟΥΣΑ (Mousa) in Greece (see their excellent second iPad app here).
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The new French version of Glamour appears to be a replica edition as the cover used inside the app description still has the bar code on the cover. But each version is somewhat different in app design, devices and pricing. Some replica editions are universal apps, while others are not.

Here is the breakdown of Glamour inside the Apple Newsstand:
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While some may think this is good news for readers, and there certainly are some upsides (after all, does your local Barnes & Noble carry the Italian version of Glamour?), the fact is that the situation is also leading to mass confusion and much dissatisfaction with digital editions, in general.

Readers just looking at the app icons certainly will have a difficult time differentiating one edition from another. But there are bigger problems such as understanding which tablet editions are interactive and which are replicas. Even language is an issue: the app Revista Glamour Brasil lists English as its language inside the U.S. App Store (it is listed as "Inglês" in the Brazil store) – the actual magazine is most certainly in Portuguese.