Thursday, April 11, 2013

Australian Adam Guthrie chooses a PDF vendor solution to successfully build a new digital magazine designed specifically for the iPad, 'I Feel Good Vegan Magazine'

For many citizen publishers, finding an affordable, easy to use digital publishing platform to launch their own digital magazine is the holy grail. For many of these first time publishers, using native design tools are not option as they are unfamiliar with Indesign or Quark. Others that are – like me, for instance – have pretty much novices when in comes to design software, barely able to build a template, and hardly the equal of most professional art directors.

For many would-be digital publishers, the goal is simply to fulfill an ambition to see a digital publication in the App Store under their name. Quite a number are choosing to use the MagCast platform to build their magazine apps.

I Feel Good Vegan Magazine is a typical example. The app is the work of Australian Adam Guthrie, who his biography states has written articles for the Natural Health and Vegetarian Life Magazine, and who has taught cooking classes and been in the restaurant business (and, yes, is a vegetarian).

Readers will be able to buy single issues inside the Apple Newsstand app for $5.99, but also subscribe for $1.99 per week, with a one week free trial. (A weekly publishing schedule is quite ambitious, don't you think?)

MagCast could, and is, being used to create replica editions, but many are choosing to design their pages for the tablet format then use the PDF solution to launch their apps. PDF vendors are a dime a dozen, and no matter what BS they wish to tell you, the only real difference between them are price, and to a lesser degree, features. MagCast apps appear pretty free of bugs, and the growing number of citizen publishers using the solution attests to its ease of use.

While PDF solutions allow for embedding of audio, video and links, it doesn't allow for scrolling text boxes and other features seen in higher priced native digital publishing platforms. But for many designers, simplicity is the goal, if only because the alternative would be too difficult to produce anyways.

In the case of this new digital magazine, the platform does present a few problems, however. MagCast only supports portrait. Since this is a food magazine, this means that using landscape for recipes and videos is not possible. My own iPad cover only allows me to stand up the tablet in landscape, for instance.

The lack of native tablet features also limits the options for how the publisher wants to handle recipes inside a story. Many native tablet editions embed them right in the story, popping up when a button is tapped. Here, the navigation has to be simply moving from one page to the other.

Despite these limitation, or maybe because of them, plenty of new digital magazine publishers are choosing these types of simple app solutions. And because the end product is actually designed for the tablet, readers can enjoy them without pinch-to-zoom or reaching for their reading glasses.