Thursday, March 7, 2013

Los Angeles-based music magazine FILTER comes to the Apple Newsstand in a bizarre replica edition app

When I lived and worked in Los Angeles so many years ago the city was still a wild, growing, crazy place. As hard as it is to believe now, Santa Monica Blvd. through West Hollywood was a dump, and all the action was on Wilshire. The city had two competing daily newspapers, and the music scene was amazing. I bet it still is.

But if wanted to know what was going on in town musically, the only real place to turn was L.A. Weekly, or maybe the reader. FILTER Issue #1 appeared in 2002, long after I left town. FILTER is now up to Issue #51 and today has its very own Newsstand app, for better or worse.

Although FILTER is published by Alan Miller and Alan Sartirana as Filter Creative Group, the app – FILTER - good music – appears in the App Store under the vendor's name MAZ Digital LLC, however.
 photo Filter-cover-sm_zpsdb3fe2f0.gif
The new digital edition makes an excellent comparison to the digital magazine TNM looked at yesterday, DIY Weekly from the UK. While the new weekly tablet magazine is designed specifically for reading on the iPad, with stories utilizing scrolling, the correct iPad specs, and embedded music (it is a music magazine, after all), the replica edition for FILTER gets it all wrong.

One notices right away the fact that that the digital pages don't quite fit the iPad's display, even in landscape – which would be the natural way to read FILTER. Each page is swiped like an eBook, but then the pages are ever so slightly oversized so that a small amount of scrolling is necessary to see the very bottom of each page. The cover, as you can see here, is a complete mess: too small at open, too large when tapped.
 photo Filter-spread-sm_zpsd9cacadf.jpg
Being a replica, there is no embedded multimedia here, though most replica edition solution providers do allow for it. MAZ is no different, promoting its ability to enhance your digital issues through their publishing solution. But the reason most publishers don't embed multimedia into replicas is simply that if they wanted their digital editions to be interactive the publisher usually would have chosen to use a native digital publishing solution to begin with. The reason to go replica, for most, is cost savings and convenience.

The good news for a magazine like FILTER is that if they want to get more serious about their digital editions changing the specs of their print magazine to reflect what they want on an iPad would be pretty easy. For instance, since the photography already looks good on the iPad, what would be necessary is upsizing the fonts, making sure the pages fit the tablet, and adding their audio content.

Pricing is pretty aggressive on the new app edition: individual issues are only $.99 and an annual subscription is only $4.99. I called to make sure the magazine was not a freebie – remember, I don't live in L.A. – and no, this is a good discount, though it is possible that the digital edition edition is discounted because it actually contains less than the print edition (for instance, inserts like a music CD sampler, etc.).