Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wheels Australia Magazine draws inspiration from other native tablet editions to produce a unique Newsstand version of its popular automotive print magazine

It has probably always been the case that the most influential media products are not always the most popular at any give time. The best selling album of 1965 was the soundtrack to Mary Poppins, not Rubber Soul, for instance. (No Beatles album was ever the biggest selling album of the year in the U.S.)

The same, I am convinced, is true for the emerging tablet platform for magazines. By far most digital magazines are replicas, but a replica is a replica, and no spot insertion of video or audio is going to change that. No, the tablet magazines that are influencing designers are coming from digital start-ups like Photography Week, La Presse+ (for newspapers) and The Magazine (though I have my doubts about the long term influence that one will have).

WHEELS AUSTRALIA MAGAZINE, the new tablet edition from Bauer Media Group (under the developer account of PBL Media Pty Ltd.) is clearly influenced by other tablet editions that are native in design.

Built using the Adobe DPS, the Newsstand app is designed to be read in landscape, which keeps its June issue down to 249 MB once installed on your retina display iPad. This isn't one of those tablet magazine apps that woe you will endless bells and whistles, despite opening up with an animated cover. It is relatively simple in design – let's say it appears that the designers were comfortable with the tablet platform, enough so that they didn't need to go overboard.

The digital edition probably could use some video content, but it isn't obviously missing.

Going with a landscape design means that some of the rules many publishers insist on living by go by the wayside. With a replica edition or a hybrid edition, the print ads stay in place, even if they might be enhanced. This makes it easy to qualify for being counted in the ABC (actually, now AAM) audit. But while this may placate the bureaucrats it does nothing for the readers, and it is of questionable value to the advertisers unless the agencies swap out creative (which they rarely do).

This landscape edition of Wheels contains some advertorial. Whether that copy is found in the print edition or is exclusive to the tablet edition is hard to say without having a copy of the print edition handy. But one can see that to monetize a tablet edition built like this one the publisher will need to think a bit out of the box.

The Newsstand app has priced monthly subscriptions at AUD $6.49 ($5.99 U.S.), with an annual subscription priced at AUD $59.99. That's pretty pricey but the app does allow you to sign up for a subscription and get a free seven day trial, so other publishers wishing to check out this new tablet edition can do so without their accounting folks raising a stink.