Monday, March 4, 2013

Focus Publishing launches new digital magazine, Exposures, and continues its search for the perfect publishing solution for its ambitious digital media plans

Focus Publishing, which publishings Focus Fine Art Photography Magazine has launched a new digital-only magazine into the Apple Newsstand, Exposures. The app launch is the third magazine title the publisher has launched in app form, and the second natively designed tablet magazine.

Exposures uses the Adobe DPS to create its interactive digital magazine, a solution that the publisher is not 100 percent satisfied with, but which gives the magazine more of the kinds of interactivity, navigation and design that they desire.

David Spivak, the president and publisher, told me that the first native digital magazine was Focus Folio. which was initially part of the main print magazine, but it was split off after Issue #19 of the main print title. Inside the new digital magazine Spivak explains why this was done:

"The reason for this was that in digital format, we could allow our reading audience to enjoy a full perspective of a photographer's work without the print costs and page count being a factor," Spivak wrote in his Publisher's Letter. "In other words, Prior to Issue #19, the most number of pages a photographer was ever allowed in our Focus Gallery section, was eight."
 photo Exposures-iPad-sm_zpsbe22d843.jpg
Focus Publishing's first app was created by MagazineCloner, but the results were not satisfactory. The publisher still publishes issues for the app to serve the readers that have signed up , but the app was pulled from the Newsstand and in March of last year and new one was launched through PixelMags. Those apps are replica editions of the print magazine, of course, as is the Zinio edition that was launched at the end of 2010.

But the publisher is now fully onboard the interactive magazine bandwagon. "In the future," writes Spivak, "we will continue to add limited amounts of interactivity to each issue of Focus Magazine, Focus Folios and Focus Exposures and study the response that the interactivity generates. If we like it, we will think about creating fully interactive editions that sell separately from static-PDF versions of each title. Thing about it, how can paper and ink display video and sound? How can you scroll through interactive articles and slideshows while flipping through pages of dried ink? You can't. This is the benefit of having a digital magazine, and I think, after time many of you will adapt and enjoy the interactivity as much as I do."

As you will see in the video below, Exposures is a fully interactive magazine, with animation, slideshows and video fully utilized in the digital edition. While Focus Folios covers subjects such as architecture, landscape and other art photography areas, Exposures is about the human form.

But inside this first issue you will immediately also notice the other photography magazine apps advertised. One of those is Pikturesque, which can be found in the Newsstand under the Focus Publishing name. This is part of the new direction the publisher is taking.

"We're launching a new service, working with a third party app development software, and this new service is going to allow us to create fine art photography magazines for other photographers," Spival told me this afternoon. At least four are in the works.

"The photographer gets to showcase their work in a way that also allows them to earn a different source of revenue, a different source of income. To do this before digital media was completely impossible."

In addition to these projects, the publisher is also building digital publications for fine art galleries. One of these is already to be found in the App Store, the stand-alone app Joy Wai Gallery.

The plan is that, for a fixed price, galleries or photographers can have print-on-demand publications, a static PDF replica and/or an interactive edition. For now, this work is being done using Adobe's solutions, but the publisher told me that they are searching for something better, something that can do all that they would like.

"There is the old saying if you want it done right, do it yourself,"Spivak said. So they are working with developers to come up with their own publishing platform – going a similar route, I suppose, as TRVL has with the launch of its PRSS publishing platform (see interview with the TRVL team here).

Exposures is a free download that will then give you access to the first issue found inside. The premiere issue is priced at $4.99, and subscriptions are available for $2.99 per two-month increments, or a semi-annual subscription for $10.99, and an annual subscription for $19.99 (not sure those prices really make sense).

Here is a walk-through the premiere issue of Exposures, from Focus Publishing.