Some magazine categories – such as film, photography, music - cry out for native tablet editions due to the possibilities of their subject. It is hard to image that in five years any music magazine will be produced without actual music to be found inside, for instance.
But not all categories are inherently made for multimedia content. The food category wouldn't lend itself to a native tablet edition if one only considered the fact that readers can not taste and smell food in a tablet magazine (maybe Apple is working on that). But, of course, one knows that there are cooking TV shows, and lots of video online, so even the food category seems ripe for the launch of a great tablet magazine (I've been pretty unimpressed with efforts launched so far).
The wine category is much smaller than food. In the U.S., the giant title is Marvin Shanken's Wine Spectator which has launched only a few apps into Apple's App Store, and none specifically for the magazine itself. Instead, digital readers would need to access Zinio's app to read the publication, and because of its larger size, is best read on the desktop rather than a tablet or mobile device.
While the Wine Spectator would seriously benefit from a native tablet edition due to its larger than standard page size – most print magazines suffer when reduced down in size in its replica edition, but larger magazines suffer even more – the subject of wine doesn't necessary require a native tablet solution. One can't taste the wines, for instance. True, vineyard and winery photography would be better viewed in a tablet edition, but otherwise there are only a few reasons a publisher would naturally decide a native tablet edition would be better than a replica.
La revue du vin de France, the new universal app from Groupe Marie Claire really tests the merits of the replica edition, though. The French publisher has so far shown no interest in producing digital publications that are anything other than PDF reproductions of their print magazines.
One wonders, looking at the apps of Groupe Marie Claire whether the French simply are not interested in digital publishing, or whether this is only a reflection of the publishing company itself.
But thinking that there is some sort of cultural bias against native tablet editions in France would be reaching the wrong conclusion. One has to assume, that like in the U.S., the decision to launch a native tablet edition is totally influenced by one's attitude towards digital publishing. If a publisher is thinking digital exclusively one would think they would want to design a native digital edition rather than a replica. The other factor would involve the kind of content the publisher wished to include in their digital edition.
So the new tablet edition from Groupe Marie Claire comes at an interesting time, just days after the release of another French wine magazine WINE LR+, seen in this TNM post from last week.
WINE LR+ is the new Newsstand version of a previously released stand-alone magazine app. The emphasis is completely on video content, which explains the publisher's decision to design the digital edition for landscape reading.
Like La revue du vin de France, the new digital edition of WINE LR is contained in a universal app, meaning that the digital magazine can be read on an iPhone or iPod touch, as well as the iPad. But where La revue du vin de France is pretty hard to read on an iPad, and impossible to read on an iPhone, WINE LR is at home on both devices.
Publishers sometimes think that their publications are only to be compared with others in their print form, but with the advent of tablet publishing publishers need to understand that while they may succeed in print, their digital editions may look outdated and badly designed against new digital competitors. For me, all the apps from Balthazar Matita are vastly superior to anything coming out of Groupe Marie Claire right now. That would concern me if I worked at the large French publisher.
In case you missed it last week, here is the walk-though video of WINE LR. Yes, it's in French, but get over it.