Thursday, May 16, 2013

Three new digital magazines from Europe: all three promote products or events, but take varied approaches to the new publishing platform

The Newsstand remains a very busy place as publishers, start-ups, citizen publishers, and brands rush to launch publications. Three new apps from Europe show not only the variety of design approaches possible, but also the business models, as well.

Festivalguide Magazin comes from Germany, from Intro GmbH & Co. KG. As the name implies, the digital magazine was created to write about the upcoming music festival season.

The new app is free and is the fourth Newsstand magazine app released into the Newsstand by Intro. An iPhone app was also released, though that app is a stand-alone one and was designed as a news app rather than as a mobile version of the tablet magazine.

All the Newsstand app appear to be of native tablet design, though I could not identify the digital publishing platform used to create it - it looked unique to me. The new app had a few bugs in it involving the subscription process – it seemed stuck in a circle of dialogue messages before finally starting the issue download. One thing unique about it was that the navigation bars were always visible instead of disappearing and reappearing with a tap of the screen.

Gourmandises d'été was launched into the Newsstand by Melons Le Rouge Gorge and is also free to download. The digital magazine is designed to promote the company's food products through recipes and feature stories.

The digital magazine is also available to download as a PDF, so it is not surprising to see that the app has the look of a replica edition. But the typical page numbering seen in print – left-even, right-odd – is totally unnecessary in both the tablet and PDF platforms. Some habits, it appears, die hard.

DESIGN in/from Spain also is meant to promote brands, in this case interior design firms from Spain. But this new tablet-only magazine is replacing a print publication and so is charging for access within the Newsstand.

The Newsstand app is published by ICEX Spain Trade and Investment, which is publisher of technical and academic publications, so their design magazine is not promoting its own brands. But at the same time the magazine is in English and seems designed to be used by a trade commission – that is why I found it somewhat surprising that it was not free.

"Well, there's no bucking the move towards paperless communications," says the editor's letter inside the first tablet edition,"and while it's always sad to say goodbye to print, it's also exciting to embrace the future. So welcome to the first iPad app issue of our magazine DESIGN which we hope you'll find convenient to use, as well as enjoyable to read."