Friday, January 18, 2013

American Airlines universal app gets updated look, Passbook use for AAdvantage card

If you are a frequent traveler you are probably discovering just how useful the airline mobile apps are becoming. Today American Airlines updated its universal iOS app, unveiling a new look and logo, as well as some more features.

The American Airlines app already will let you book flights, monitor your stand-by status and set a reminder so you don't lose your car in the long term parking lot. Oh, it also let's you play Sudoku, though I've never really understood the attraction of that.

Now the app has added Passbook support for the AAdvantage card, and of course, unveiled that new logo (what do you think? I'm not so sure). It also fixed some bugs, says the app description.

I don't travel as much as I used to when I was publishing B2B magazines. But I have this app, as well as many of the other airline apps on my iPhone. You may not use them all the time, but I have a feeling they will come in handy now and then (those airport terminal maps, for instance).

Safeway updates its mobile apps for its grocery brands

It is not a big secret that newspapers have lost much of their advertising over the past decade or so. Observers point to the loss of classified business such as recruitment and auto advertising and one of the major factors total ad revenue has been falling in the industry.

But newspapers have been losing the advertising out of many of its most powerful categories for years now, beginning well before the Internet began to syphon off the business. Real estate brokers, for instance, began producing their own tabloid magazines for homebuyers in the nineties; auto traders and apartment rental publications appeared in gas stations, convenience and grocery stores long before the advent of Google and Craigslist. If there is one thing newspaper executives have proven adept at, it is ignoring threats from competitors.

(Disclosure: I worked in both sales and management in the classified advertising and national and retail food advertising departments at Hearst, Copley and other other newspaper chains.)
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But that is not to lessen the impact of the Internet, and now mobile and tablet platforms. Marketers have been trying to reach customers directly for years by buying subscriber lists and building their own databases. To do this, without the help of media outlets, brands started building their own websites, their own email capabilities, their own in-store publications. That they would now turn to mobile apps is a natural.

Safeway, the second largest grocer in the U.S. behind Kroger, has had its own mobile apps since early last year. Its brands, such as Dominick's, Vons, Randalls, Pavilions, and Tom Thumb, also have mobile apps identical to the Safeway branded app.

Those mobile apps were updated today. The biggest new features users will notice is that the apps are now supporting the iPhone 5's larger display. But the apps also build on the apps's main purpose, which is to drive offers to customers, help them compile shopping lists, and make the grocery chains more in control of their customer relations.

Newspapers won't be the only publishers effected by the growth in mobile apps and the web. Direct and marriage mailers, too, are seeing their ad space decline and retailers take on more of the marketing burden themselves.

Morning Brief: The Sun uses free iPhone app in marketing effort; Newspaper Guild to open talks early with Philly newspaper owners; Apple works with Hearst Magazines on 'Read Them Here First' push inside the Newsstand

The U.K. tabloid, The Sun, owned by News International (Murdoch's UK division of News Corp.) has launched a new free iPhone app in support of a promotion effort. The app (U.S. App Store link) will be supporting the paper's promotion called "The Sun's Big Smile Giveaway." The promotion runs through March 31.

"Smile in the face of winter blues with The Sun's Big Smile Giveway," the promotion on The Sun's website reads.

Everything about the promotion seems to be tied to getting information from readers, front the sign-up form, to the new app that makes readers sign in using Facebook.

The free app features the day's funniest stories, according to the app description. The app is a good example of using mobile or tablet apps as marketing for a media company.

Here is the paper's video in support of the promotion, very cute.

The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia has agreed to conduct early talks with the owners of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and in a move that even the Guild admitted was unusual.

The union's contract with Interstate General Media LLC, owners of the papers, runs out in October. The papers are looking once again to cut costs.

While it was an unusual, and I am sure difficult, decision for the Guild, it is really a very important step they are making by reopening the contract," Interstate General chief executive Robert J. Hall said in the report.
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Yesterday Apple began promoting the digital magazine titles of Hearst inside the Newsstand in a marketing effort under the banner "Read Them Here First."

"Subscribe to these Newsstand magazines and read them on your iPad before they appear in print or any other digital edition," reads the promotion.

The idea counters one argument against some digital magazines, that subscribers of print editions might receive their magazines earlier than digital readers.

The promotion will also help Hearst, which has received very low grades from readers inside the App Store for its pricing policy: Hearst charges all readers for its digital editions, even print subscribers.

Hearst apps also have suffered from bugs, as well. The most recent recent version of Cosmopolitan's tablet edition, for instance, is getting hammered for blank screens. The app was last updated in December.

One reason to charge all readers, of course, is to drive readers to digital, where production and distribution costs will be lower. The move, while making sense from a cost perspective, does leave out the question of paid advertising: can magazines maintain their rate bases through tablet editions without losing advertising from clients and agencies. Most publishers seem to believe they can, so long as audits reflect the total audience.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Adobe and Apple help promote Wenner Media's new tablet edition of Rolling Stone magazine

Not surprisingly, Adobe is promoting on its blog the release of the new tablet edition of Rolling Stone, as it was made using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. You can read the original post, and the accompanying video, here.

Adobe doesn't have a whole lot to say about the new app, but it does include a quote from Joseph Hutchinson, Rolling Stone Design Director: "We’re excited to give our readers a digital version of the magazine that is designed specifically for the iPad. Each page and photograph of the magazine is optimized to enhance readability and allow readers to easily navigate through the issue, along with the added feature of being able to listen to music samples."

Apple, too, is promoting the new app, featuring the app at the top of its carousel in both the Music and Newsstand categories inside iTunes.
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With the recent redesign of the App Store, new apps no longer can be found simply by searching under the "All" area as it's been eliminated. In fact, as of today, other than the "New and Noteworthy" section, which does not actually feature new apps, the only other apps being feature are 13 apps under the banner Entertainment News. Because of this, many developers are complaining about both declining app sales and the barriers Apple seems to be putting up for small and independent developers.

Wenner Media is clearly not in this category and is, therefore, getting good treatment from Apple.

As with many other big name magazine titles, Rolling Stone has launched its first interactive tablet edition strictly for Apple's iOS platform. Amazon continues to have a Kindle Edition, but readers generally have rated that poorly for its high price and replica edition design.

I found nothing in Google Play.

It seems likely that Wenner Media is staying away from doing much more than support the other platforms with replicas, at least for now.

From unlikely sources come compelling new tablet titles; The Long Haul Magazine, The Nimble Magazine, BackPocket Magazine, Blueprint Entrepreneur Magazine

Late this morning I responded to a tweet from Rafat Ali, the co-founder of Skift (and founder of paidContent), a new B2B travel website. Ali had tweeted "It is amazing, shocking, confounding yet delightful how slow the travel trades are." I basically said that he had no idea, it is worse than he thinks.

Nothing exemplifies this slowness of the trades than the repeated press release about the low number of new magazine launches seen in 2012. Just a superficial examination of the claim would have shown that it was simply not true. In fact, the pace of magazine launches – digital magazine launches, that is – is incredible.

One of those titles actually has been in the Newsstand for a while now. The Long Haul Magazine is on its third issue now and focuses on the issue of driver health and lifestyle, rather than just the business of long haul transportation.

Edited and published by Luisa Nims, the idea for launching a tablet magazine came from her husband who told her about a new digital publishing solution – Magcast. Until then Nims was contemplating a website only approach.

Nims doesn't come from the print magazine world, nor does she come from a trucking background, either.
"I've never driven a truck, I don't even like driving. If I could walk everywhere I would," Nims told me.

By being an early customer of the company Nims was able to launch her digital magazine with low start-up costs, less than $1,500 I was told. This will allow Nims to not only experiment with the platform, but not feel the pressure some publishers deal with in a new launch situation.

"It's also confidence issue, too: it's OK to mess up $1,500, it's not OK to mess up $15,000, or $20,000," Nims said. "When I've been talking to some mainstream magazine titles… you know they spent $60-70,000 just to get one of their titles into the digital space, which makes no sense at all."

Nims knows that eventually her revenue will come from advertising, but for now it is all about building up her readership, something she plans to do through new launches.

The Nimble Magazine is a new tablet magazine from Benjamin Rabe, a freelance web-designer from Hamburg, Germany.

"It is an experiment, ma," Rabe writes whimsically in his new invention.

"I think that's the apt way to label something you have never done before. I always wanted to more illustrational work, and blogging for over three years on, a magazine seems like the logical step for me," Rabe writes.

"With The Nimble Mag I will try and embrace the three key elements in this new area of art: mobility, data-driven collaboration and sharing. The first three issues are free. After than I will see whether I am able to sustain it all and also switching to paid subscription."

Rabe does us all a favor by listing his tool right on the first page: The Baker Framework, animate, The Laker Compendium, Middleman, FontAwesome and Google Web Fonts. The result is, as Rabe describes it, "a tiny publication about mobile art and other stuff."

It is well worth checking out.

BackPocket Magazine and Blueprint Entrepreneur Magazine
use two very different vendor solutions.

BackPocket is published by Alexander Chaney and is using Coverpage to produce its app. I have not played around with Coverpage, but the solution appears more powerful and feature laden than Magcast, which both The Long Haul Magazine and Blueprint Entrepreneur Magazine are using.

Jamie Cheng is publishing Blueprint Entrepreneur and is charging $10.99 for single issues, though a free trial of the new digital magazine is available within the app.

Rolling Stone gets an iPad edition, a hybrid edition that needs ad agencies to get on board the tablet bandwagon

You can be sure that media websites will want to rub it in a bit. Jann Wenner famously dismissed iPad publishing and as a result the Wenner Media titles have been slow to appear inside the Apple Newsstand. But today the first tablet edition for Rolling Stone has been released.

Rolling Stone Magazine, the app, is the second Wenner Media tablet edition to appear inside the Newsstand, US Weekly having been released in May of last year. Why the long delay? Did the company feel that releasing an iPad app for Rolling Stone would be a bit of an embarrassment? Who knows, and it really doesn't matter if you are a fan of the magazine, it is in the Newsstand now.
Print subscribers to Rolling Stone's print edition will not be pleased: everyone is being asked to pay to access the digital editions – $4.99 for individual issues, $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year to subscribe. The price, though, does represent a discount over print, so it is possible here that the publisher recognizes that driving readers to digital will payoff in the end – at least from the standpoint of production costs.

But Jann Wenner's point about digital, made to AdAge in May of last year, has some validity still today:
From the publisher's point of view I would think they're crazy to encourage it. They're going to get less money for it from advertisers. Right now it costs a fortune to convert your magazine, to program it, to get all the things you have to do on there. And they're not selling. You know, 5,000 copies there, 3,000 copies here, it's not worth it. You haven't put a dent in your R&D costs.

So I think that they're prematurely rushing and showing little confidence and faith in what they've really got, their real asset, which is the magazine itself, which is still a great commodity. It's a small additive; it's not the new business.
I don't think many publishers would argue about the idea that a tablet edition will end up getting less ad dollars than a print magazine. But then again, most publishers are not looking to separate their print editions from their digital editions, continuing to charge one price for everything, pumping up circulation through digital distribution, but still charging ad rates based on the print price model.

That is why it shouldn't be surprising that the new Rolling Stone tablet edition is a hybrid tablet app, with print ads reproduced as seen in print, and the editorial pages reformatted – we are seeing this more and more in magazines that are maintaining healthy ad page counts.

But I'm not sure the approach woks well here, at least not at the beginning of the book. The two-page spreads seen here are incomprehensible (see video walk-through below). With so much time between the US Weekly launch and the Rolling Stone launch it is disappointing to see that the ad team was not able (or given the opportunity) to go to agencies and swap out copy for more appropriate, more interactive ads. Who is at fault here: agencies or the publisher?

The first issue seen here, dated January 31 (that doesn't make much sense in a digital world either, does it?) weighs in at only 137 MB thanks to utilizing portrait only.
The other thing that keeps the file size down is that much of the links point to outside the app. But by taking the hybrid approach, the editors were able to add audio content that greatly improves the reading experience. Loyal readers, who go digital, will certainly think the digital edition offers great value and a good reading experience.

Also, as you will see in the video, those links to outside content also include links to iTunes where a reader can buy the music being featured. If there is a problem with the approach it is that it takes you completely outside the app and to return the reader must go back to the app itself. Surely Apple would want a more elegant way to link to its own store than this?

(I've deleted the paragraph that ended this post because it violated my own rule about commenting on the content of the magazines seen here, rather than just the app, its approach and its business model.)

Facebook updates Facebook Messenger as free calling in the U.S. will soon be available; Rogers Publishing updates its iOS apps; more media app updates

Facebook last night had their update to their mobile app Facebook Messenger released into the App Store by Apple. The update fixes some bugs and returns the ability to swipe-right to archive a conversations.

But the big reason for the update has to be that Facebook is rolling out free calling for iPhone users. The service has been tested in Canada and apparently is ready for rolling out in the U.S.

The free calling is, of course, over WiFi, so it will be of limited value to many iPhone owners, but it will be another VOIP services available and will, no doubt, prove popular.

Canadian media company Rogers Publishing has rolled out a series of updates for its tablet and mobile editions. Canadian Grocer, Maclean's, Marketing, MoneySense, Sportsnet and others were updated yesterday and today.
Most of the updates center on fixing subscription bug issues, as well as improvements to the video player and animations.

Other media app updates this morning include ones from NewBsy Media for Broadcasting & Cable++, from Dennis Publishing for Auto Express, and a couple from Disney to their TV apps WATCH Disney Channel and WATCH Disney Junior.

The Disney updates are major as they add in iPhone 5 support, bandwidth throttling, and allow some viewers to avoid having to sign into their cable provider accounts to watch programming – sign into your account in one app and you won't have to do the same thing on another app.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quick Look: VICE Magazine launches iPad edition

Some times native designed tablet editions go too far, some times replica editions don't go far enough. Part of the challenge for magazine publisher with print editions is just how far to go with their tablet editions – do they go all out with animated covers and lots of video, or tone it down and create hybrid editions that look very much like print but reformat the editorial pages.

The new tablet edition for VICE Magazine reformats the magazine into both portrait and landscape reading modes, makes reading a joy on the iPad, but doesn't break much new ground when it comes tablet magazine design. And you know what, that's OK. I believe. If you enjoy reading this title you will continue to enjoy to read it on your iPad. In fact, you'll probably prefer it.

There is not much wrong with this new app except its app description that is far too short. "The Definitive Guide to Enlightening Information" – that's it, the entire app description. The good news is that this can be corrected.

Because of the lack of multimedia content here the issue I downloaded is only a bit over 100 MB, pretty small for any native tablet edition, especially one with a landscape mode. The app uses the increasingly common practice of scrolling with stories, and swiping to reach the next story. Where there is artwork that is full page only portrait the art is oversized in landscape so the reader must scroll to see the rest of the art. Occasionally there are picture galleries here, as well.

Simple, it works, it's free, what is there not to like?

Digital First Media announces it will reduce print schedule of its paper, The Oneida Daily Dispatch; readers now dependent on website and outsourced digital editions

The struggling newspaper company, Digital First Media, today announced that it will reduce the print schedule for its paper, The Oneida Daily Dispatch, beginning on February 3.

The newspaper will now only print three days a week, though the move does create a new Sunday edition. The other two printed papers will appear on Tuesday and Thursday.

As is usual in these kinds of situation, the publisher put a happy face on the move, and talked about digital initiatives.

"Changes in the marketplace have allowed us to accelerate our transition to a more comprehensive, multi-platform offering. The Oneida Daily Dispatch is expanding our digital platforms including our new mobile and tablet applications as well as expanded website content," said Jan Dewey, Digital First Media’s New York Publisher.

The problem with talking about digital in regards to Digital First Media is that the company has actually shown little interest in the new digital platforms, launching replica e-editions and weak tablet and mobile apps – outsourcing even those modest efforts to NewspaperDirect and Spreed. The result is that some readers will now be asked to read digital replicas of print editions that no longer exist. The best new digital product released by a Digital First Media property has no doubt been the excellent, self-produced tablet magazine, Denver Post Colorado Ski Guide.

The Journal Register Company, of which the Oneida paper is part, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September of last year. The company is owned by Alden Global Capital.

At the time of the bankruptcy announcement, John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, said on his company blog that the company expected "the auction and sale process to take about 90 days." To date that was the last entry written on the blog. The post written just before the bankruptcy announcement was a defense of Newhouse newspapers and its decision to reduce the print schedule of the Times-Picayune in New Orleans.

The bankruptcy auction is scheduled to conclude February 15, though the process is expected to merely transfer the ownership of the company to 21st CMH Acquisition Co., an affiliate of funds managed by Alden Global Capital. More musical chairs.

Digital book publishing: Penguin publishes deluxe eBook teacher's edition of Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' ; NOOK and Kobo both commit to the ePUB3 standard; 360 Sound enhanced eBook comes in two flavors, and with problems

Penguin Group released an enhanced eBook edition of John Steinbeck's classic Of Mice and Men, designed to be "the ultimate teacher’s guide for student discussions."

Of Mice and Men: Teacher’s Deluxe Edition includes video clips of student's offering their own perspectives on the themes of the book, as well as instruction on how to project the eBook for use during classroom discussions.
The eBook is priced at $11.99 and is available for the iPad, B&N's NOOK Color, Google Books for the desktop, and the Amazon app for any iOS device.

Additional materials include an audio interview with actor James Earl Jones describing his experience performing in the Broadway version of the play, an introduction and suggestions for further reading by Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw, the Robert Burns poem from which the novel’s title derives, and Steinbeck’s 1962 Nobel Banquet Speech.
Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men remains one of America's most widely read and taught novels. An unlikely pair, George and Lennie, two migrant workers in California during the Great Depression, grasp for their American Dream. Laborers in California's dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations, nor predict the consequences of Lennie's unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.
Penguin Group’s CEO John Makinson was an early supporter of Apple's tablet plans, stating that the publisher "will be embedding and streaming audio, video and gaming in to everything we do. This will present us, and the platform owners with technology challenges," Makinson said, referring to the original iPad.

Penguin's app team, though, appears new to submitting apps for Apple's iBookstore as the name of the eBook contains a typo and there are no screenshots to accompany the enhanced eBook. An update, though, would correct this situation easily enough.

Barnes & Noble looks like it will be supporting the EPUB 3 stamndard for its NOOK eBooks, according to a report on the Digital Book World website.

"We’re very supportive of open industry formats,” said Kashif Zafar, Director, NOOK. "We are in line to make sure migration happens successfully and effectively in the coming months and year. When the Nook Color came out we wanted to lead the way with picture book formats. NOOK is very supportive of open industry formats now that EPUB3 is maturing."

The move follows a similar statement from Jim Dovey, ePub Content Formats Evangelist at Kobo Inc. "Kobo is aiming to be the first company to support all of EPUB3," said Dovey back in December at a conference in New York.

I've finally gotten a good chance to work my way through the enhanced eBook of 360: Sound: The Columbia Records Story. The eBook of author Sean Wilentz's history of the legendary record label was created using iBooks Author by Trailer Park Inc. (The original book was published by Chronicle Books.)
The eBook is priced at $14.99, and as I mentioned in my preview, is currently out of stock as a hardbound version over at, making the eBook option quite attractive.

The book is well worth the hefty download of 857 MB if you are interested in the subject. Columbia Records's history goes back to the early days of the industry, and the label, though sometimes prone to releasing mostly popular music, was also the home to Miles Davis and Bob Dylan, after all.

But Trailer Park has made a bit of a mess of its eBook efforts here. While the main eBook is certainly worth the price, the digital publisher has also released what it calls a companion book by Dave Marsh under the same name – and that eBook is a free download.

360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story, the Dave Marsh edition, is even larger, 1.09 GB, and comes with problems.

When the reader downloads the eBook, then installs it, the eBook immediately appears to begin downloading an updated version. This download has a tendency to stall and not complete its download. Readers have complained inside iTunes of having incomplete downloads and not being able to delete the book (or read it).

The problem is that an app, or book, or whatever, can not be deleted until it becomes a completed file. The trick is to get the app to finish the download, and at over one gig, that is quite a chore. I eventually was able to get the eBook to finish downloading the update and all appears OK for now.

But the whole mess begs the question: why would you release two eBooks with the same name, and give one of them away? Surely this is confusing readers and depressing sales.

In any case, here is a walk-through a very small part of the new eBook by author Sean Wilentz:

Morning Brief: US District Court judge finds that news agencies can not reproduce Tweeted photos without the photographer's permission; NHL updates the GameCenter app in preparation for the season finally starting Saturday

AU.S. District Court in Manhattan judge late Monday ruled that the news agency Agence France-Presse and The Washington Post used the photographs of Daniel Morel, taken in Haiti following the devastating earthquake of 2010, without his permission, and in violation of the terms of service of Twitter, where they originally appeared.

According to Reuters, both news outlets used the photographs once they appeared on Twitter, with the WaPo using four of the pictures on its website, and the news wire disseminating the photographs through its service. Morel was seeking substantial damages in the case, but the judge, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, has ruled that damages will be limited only to the actual number of photographs used.

The former CEO of Apple, John Scully has an opinion concerning Apple and the iPhone, according to Bloomberg. We at TNM really don't care what he opinion is and won't waste more space here telling you about it.
Like most Americans, I prefer baseball and football to most other sports. But there is nothing quite like playoff hockey. Well, the NHL and its players have found a way to improve the quality of the play in the league: have a strike that limits the season length and pretty go straight to the playoffs.

This year a lock out of the players has resulted in half the season being lost, with the first games of the season finally being played this Saturday.

Now that the season is starting it is wise to update the NHL GameCenter app, which NHL Interactive Cyberenterprises did last night. The universal app will only costs you $49.99 this year due to the shortened season.

The app is much like MLB's app in that it lets users watch out of market games, as well as radio broadcasts.

The app itself is free and will give the user access to scores and post-game highlights, but a $4.99 upgrade allows for the user to access live radio broadcasts and in-game video highlights.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Weather Channel updates its iPad app; animated weather backgrounds are gone, new news and video sections arrive, as well as statewide flu reports

The Weather Channel has issued a major update to its iPad app, adding in new features, but taking away the animated weather backgrounds. It also appears that someone made a big mistake with the new app icon, it clearly contains the word "Test" on it when installed on the user's iPad (oops).

"As a part of our performance improvements, our animated weather backgrounds are going away," the app description says. "We will miss them too, but we are excited that this will mean a faster and more efficient app for you!"

The Weather Channel for iPad remains a free, ad-supported app. The newly updated app now weighs in at 41.4 MB, much smaller than the previous version of the app.
The update brings new News and Video sections – though as you can see with the screenshot below, the video content has a few issues. There is also statewide flu level information as reported by the CDC, especially helpful with the flu season this year being especially rough.

The reason for the end to animated weather backgrounds probably has much to do with the way the app was performing on older models of the iPad. Quite a number of users complained to problems on their tablets.

Another consistent issue users are reporting, however, is that the hourly data was said to be wrong and different than the same data on the iPhone. I never noticed this myself, though I must admit I never cross checked the two apps.

Content Marketing: two branded magazines take different approaches to the tablet platform; Sennheiser's new digital magazine will appeal to musicians worldwide; Steinway's Listen Music Magazines launches replica

From the beginning of the tablet platform, brands have taken advantage of the platform's ability to serve up interactive content, directly connect to customers, and deliver sales – or at least new leads. The auto companies, in particular, were the first to dive into the new platform, launching some of the best early digital magazines into the App Store, and later the Newsstand.

Today two music-related companies launched new apps into the Newsstand that take very different approaches to the platform.
Blue Stage by Sennheiser is a very nice, new tablet magazine that takes an innovative approach to content marketing.

The app launches to a dialogue box where the reader selects their language preference – with English, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Chinese the options (no French, interesting). The app itself is only 9.9 MB in size so much of the multimedia content must be housed outside the app. Upon opening the app warned me that I did not have an Internet connection – even though I did – but I navigated past this pretty quickly.

As you will see from the video walk-through, there is plenty of interactivity here, as it should be for a digital magazine. "Blue Stage is a monthly magazine on all matters sonic," the app description reads. (If you are not familiar with Sennheiser then you should know that they are a leader in making of microphones and headphones, often found in professional sound studios.)

The purpose of the app, of course, is to promote the Sennheiser brand, and it does this very well, building on the brands status and meeting the expectations of both music enthusiasts and readers of digital magazines.

The masthead credits the "technology & design" of the app to Appmotion GmbH, a mobile marketing firm from Hamburg. "Concept" is credited to Stefan Bodeit. The editor, at least of the English version, is Richard Melville.

Listen Music Magazine is a quite a contrast to the previous app. Sold under the name Steinway Musical Instruments, I assumed that this was a branded magazine for the manufacturer of world class pianos. But the classical music magazine is published by ArchivMusic LLC, a company that Steinway acquired in 2008. The magazine is designed, therefore, not to promote Steinway pianos by ArkivMusic's retail recording efforts.

With the demise of physical newsstands, finding this magazine becomes harder and harder, so a digital edition makes a tremendous amount of sense. But this app sort of makes no sense at all.

First of all, the app is a replica, and replicas and music simply should not go together. But the field is filled with replicas right now: Downbeat, Jazzwise, Gramophone and now Listen. That a publisher would not see the danger here is astounding. Guys, you are just begging for a digital start-up to put you under.

This particular digital edition comes from Texterity, which pushes flipbooks and now replica apps. The digital magazine costs $4.99 per issue, or $14.99 for an annual subscription. But the link provided in the app takes you directly to the flipbook where you can read the magazine for free. One hand doesn't seem to know what the other is doing.
While it is nice to be able to access new titles through the Newsstand, one wonders why publishers, especially publishers of music magazines, would want to launch a digital publication that contains no music.

But this isn't just a music magazine, it is one from a company that is also a seller of music. Why not create a real tablet edition, one that not only allows the reader to hear samples of the recordings, but also allows the reader to directly place an order?

I know I can't the only publisher out there that sees the possibilities, am I?

Scholastic report shows that eBook reading by children has doubled since 2010, while demand for more increases

The eBook revolution is still in its early days, so Scholastic's new national survey, Kids & Family Reading Room, which shows that the percent of children who have read an eBook has almost doubled since 2010 shouldn't come as much of a surprise. According to the study, 46 percent of children haven now read an eBook.

Half of children also say that they would have more fun reading it they had more access to eBooks, also a 50 percent increase.

The study reinforces what Apple has been preaching, that we are in the midst of a revolution in books used in the classroom. The advantages of digital books – the ability to issue electronic updates, low cost of distribution, interactivity – make them ideal for the classroom. The issue has been, and remains, eBook reader access. But more and more classrooms are found to have iPads and libraries are moving towards both eBooks and digital magazines (I hope to have a report on that subject by the end of the day tomorrow).

The study also found that if exposed to eBooks the demand for eBooks grows.
  • Eighty percent of kids who read ebooks still read books for fun primarily in print.
  • Fifty-eight percent of kids age 9-17 say they will always want to read books printed on paper even though there are ebooks available (a slight decline from 66% in 2010), revealing the digital shift in children’s reading that has begun.
"We are seeing that kids today are drawn to both print books and ebooks, yet ereading seems to offer an exciting opportunity to attract and motivate boys and reluctant readers to read more books," said Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer, Scholastic. "While many parents express concern over the amount of time their child spends with technology, nearly half do not have a preference of format for their child’s books. The message is clear – parents want to encourage more reading, no matter the medium."

A side benefit to eBooks, according to the study, was that eBooks are better than print books when attempting to read without revealing what they are reading to their friends. Peer pressure to not be the "smart kid" apparently still exists!

Morning Brief - Belgian edition: Watchdog group files complaint about Apple Care; Le Soir updates tablet edition

It seems like the Belgians like to stay in the news. Just last month Belgian newspapers were fighting with Google over search results and linking to newspaper content – that was settled with a few dollars passed on to the newspapers, but without any real changes initiated.

Now the Belgian consumer watchdog group, Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats, has filed a complaint against Apple. The issue revolves around Apple Care, the warranty and service agreement offered on Apple products. The complaint (in Dutch) states that the care package does not conform to European law because a two year agreement must be offered on Apple products free of charge – so only after that period of time would Apple care be warranted.

The complaint states that since March of last year Test-Aankoop has been pushing Apple to comply with the two-year requirement but that "Apple remained deaf to the demands of Test-Aankoop." In its complaint the Belgian group mentions a similar dispute with Italian authorities that led to penalties against Apple.

"The commercial practices of Apple were found to be misleading. Apple by the Italian competition authorities on 21-12-2011 sentenced to pay € 900,000 and was obliged to the consumer on their contractual legal warranty and guarantees to change. Apple appealed against this decision, but the decision of the competition authority was confirmed on June 6, 2012."
Meanwhile, Belgian newspapers continue to work with Apple. Today Le Soir issued an app update for its tablet edition found inside the Apple Newsstand.

The app is a reformatted version of the newspaper's website with PDF versions of the two editions of the newspaper available for purchase. The update now allows the app to automatically refresh the PDF versions of the paper and fixes bugs tied to the subscription process.

More from Belgium: Apparently Belgium has quite a violence problem – or Ann Coulter seems to think so. According to the Fox News commentator "if you compare while populations, we have the same murder rate as Belgium," Coulter says. "So perhaps it's not a gun problem, it is a demographic problem– which liberals are pushing, pushing, pushing, let's get more Colin Fergusons, and more whoever the guy was who shot up Fort Hood."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Preview: 360 Sound: the digital advantage

While catching up with my industry reading I decided to concentrate on book publishing. I just don't write enough about eBooks, especially now that it seems that both newspaper and magazine publishers have a huge opportunity to begin book lines thanks to the rise of both Kindle Editions and the Apple iBookstore.

But, like the magazine and newspaper trade industry journals, the book publishing journals seem to get a kick out of dissing all things digital, proclaiming that the eBook industry has peaked, or is limited in some way. Two articles, one one a U.S. site, the other a U.K. site, said basically the same thing: the decline on eBook sales at some retailers shows that the eBook craze is over. (No links, they don't deserve the traffic.)

Well, it was good for a chuckle. But it was also sad to know that is the way some think.

I see no reason to try and refute such an argument. The authors simply did not seem to really be familiar with the format. To them, an eBook is simply a digital reproduction of a work of fiction, something read on a Kindle, for instance. It is certainly that – but boy is it also much more.

And that is why eBooks are here to stay. Take, for instance, 360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story. The enhanced eBooks was created using iBooks Author and was released into the Apple iBookstore on October 1, 2012. The eBooks costs $14.99 and weighs in at 857 MB - quite a load.

The author is Sean Wilentz, and the publisher of the hardcover book is Chronicle Books. Interestingly, Amazon lists the publication date of six weeks after the eBook appeared in Apple's iBookstore. The hardcover price is listed at $45, but Amazon is selling it for $29.70 – but there is one problem, it is out of stock. The eBook, of course, is very much available inside Apple's iTunes store.
There is no Kindle Edition of the book, and if you think about it, that makes sense – an eBook edition of this subject should obviously contain audio files, and hopefully some video, as well. Until Amazon creates its own version of iBooks Author publishers are stuck with ePub, PDF or other formats that really don't quite match what iBooks Author promises – though book apps are another thing altogether.

The iBooks Author version of 360 Sound was published by Trailer Park Publishing out of Hollywood, California. It lists Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Hachette among its clients. It also lists Apple.

I haven't opened up 360 Sound yet, but I assume it will be a good read, and a good example of an enhanced eBook – and I really wish the publisher would have sent me a promo code! But one thing I am absolutely sure of is this: no print edition about the music business will ever really be superior to what a digital edition, created by a good publisher, can offer. I still love print books, as do consumers, but don't tell me digital is going away. It just is silly.

When I took the position of publisher of two b2B titles at Reed Business Information, one of the things that came with the job was management of a book line for one of the brands.

The magazine had published a few titles over the years but while the book line contributed a few dollars to the revenue line it contributed even more the to expense line. One of these expenses was storage.

When I investigated the business as it had been conducted I found that the publisher would order up the printing of a minimum number of books and would then store them at the printer until orders came in. Since the printer required that a certain number of books needed to be printed it was inevitable that the books would begin to pile up.

A trip to the printer found pallets of books, rotting in storage. The publication dates seemed ancient to me, which meant that recycling the titles appeared to be the best solution.

We may have published a couple new titles that first year, but otherwise the business went away. I researched whether we should resurrect the book line, and even started to get enthusiastic about the possibilities.

But if I were in charge of that B2B title today I know I would be certainly thinking about digital books. All the things that seemed to be an argument against book publishing – minimum press runs, storage, packaging, shipping – would not be a factor today.

CNET's Greg Sandoval quits over editorial independence following CBS interference in site's CES awards process

If I have advice for Greg Sandoval, the now former senior reporter for CNET, it is to get back to work and don't pretend for a moment that your honorable action will lead to anything good.

Sandoval resigned today from the tech website after the much publicized incident where CBS forced its tech web property CNET to withdraw Dish Network's award nomination due to CBS's corporate legal battle with the satellite TV provider.

The retraction of the award nomination for "Best in Show" at CES was embarrassing for CNET, Sandoval's resignation will compound that embarrassment. But let's be real here, the real loser is the reporter who feels they must resign their position.

In my 30 years in this business I have only resigned once in a similar fashion – but it was an easier decision to make than Sandoval's. My employer was making hiring decisions based on trying to recreate the OJ Simpson trial at work – yep, he was hiring people who had last names similar to names of the lawyers and witnesses involved in the Simpson trial. Leaving that disaster was a pretty easy decision.

But I've also had to tell a newspaper publisher to go stuff it when he actually said he wanted me to kiss his ass because that is what he had to do his whole career. That was a tougher call, it cost me a dream job. But I didn't lose my job, I merely lost a promotion. A month later I accepted a job at McGraw-Hill and never looked back. But my newspaper career had apparently come to a close.

Journalists are applauding Sandoval today, but they shouldn't. Instead they should be wondering why the industry is in such bad shape that media owners no longer have a clue about what editorial freedom is about. For every Sandoval who resigns over the issue there are ten more who gladly work for companies where they are told to spew the day's talking points. Most collect their paycheck and go home, never losing sleep over that day's events.

Incidents like that at CNET get a lot of attention, but journalists – and just about everyone in the media business – face working in a tough work environment every day. The fact that one reporter said 'enough' isn't a cause for celebration, it is a sign of a sick industry.

(As John Gruber speculates, Sandoval is probably already receiving offers to work for other tech sites – hopefully, one of these offers even includes pay.)

Update: This statement has been issued by CBS:
CBS has nothing but the highest regard for the editors and writers at CNET, and has managed that business with respect as part of its CBS Interactive division since it was acquired in 2008. This has been an isolated and unique incident in which a product that has been challenged as illegal, was removed from consideration for an award. The product in question is not only the subject of a lawsuit between Dish and CBS, but between Dish and nearly every other major media company as well. CBS has been consistent on this situation from the beginning, and, in terms of covering actual news, CNET maintains 100% editorial independence, and always will. We look forward to the site building on its reputation of good journalism in the years to come.

I have been mulling in my head whether I had anything important to say about the death of Aaron Swartz.

This online post on the financial blog Naked Capitalism is preferable. This paragraph, for me, stood out (I broke it out into two paragraphs for easier reading):
As we think about what happened to Aaron, we need to recognize that it was not just prosecutorial overreach that killed him. That’s too easy, because that implies it’s one bad apple. We know that’s not true. What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed.

There’s a reason whistleblowers get fired. There’s a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There’s a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriako - who told the world it was going on. There’s a reason those who destroyed the financial system “dine at the White House”, as Lawrence Lessig put it. There’s a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There’s a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There’s a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq. This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.

By The Bottle and Maura Magazine: New digital magazines continue to appear, despite remaining apparently invisible to the industry's trade press

Several new tablet magazines were launched into the Apple Newsstand over the weekend into today. The sheer volume of new tablet magazine launches has to bring up the question of whether the traditional magazine media outlets remain relevant today – after all, it was only a few weeks ago that they loudly announced that 2012 saw the smallest number of new magazine launches on record, when most digital media observers were seeing the opposite, a flood of new magazine launches. Of course, they were digital, so the traditional media trade industry publications didn't see to think those counted.

One of the newly launched tablet-only magazines is from the U.K., By The Bottle. The magazine is a bit of a mystery as its link from the app description goes to a page with only two links on it.
The digital magazine is edited by Geordie Clark who writes about the origins of the magazine in his introductory column.

"Our objective behind this magazine was straightforward. We started this project because felt the wind market was missing a piece of the puzzle (sic). Other magazines cover industry news and wine reviews very well, but they don't always speak to the common wine enthusiast," Clark wrote. "We wanted to write about wine but take the stuffiness out of the topic. We wanted to make it fine, and useful, whether you are a casual wine drinker of a professional with years of experience in the trade."

(The nice thing about digital magazines is typos can be corrected with updates.)

Some of the articles that follow involve #7WordWineReview, something I was totally unaware of (they are wine meet ups, if I understand the concept) and the whole flow of the magazine seems a bit odd to me, made more so by the slightly mysterious nature of this magazine start-up. There is no "publisher" identified, though I have a feeling a gentleman referred to as VIM is behind this effort (Vimal Chatwani).

What the case may be, the app here is free to download and the issue inside is free, as well the design is native with scrolling text boxes employed, as well as more static pages.

The digital magazine can be read in either portrait or landscape, though the ad that is on the page following the cover is designed for portrait. The fact that the ad is for Riedel (the wine glass producer) and the first story is an interview with Maximilian Riedel raised some flags with me and made me wonder if what was to follow was merely advertorials – this proved not to be the case.

Here is a brief walk-through the beginning of the first issue of By The Bottle. The video makes it seem like the pages don't quite fit the display of the iPad, but ignore that, it was caused by the video capture software.

Another new digital magazine released is called Maura Magazine and appears under the seller name of 29th Street Publishing.
Tim Moore is one of those who is part of 29th Street Publishing. You will remember Moore from the digital magazine Letter to Jane, one of the first new tablet magazines created shortly after the launch of the original iPad in April of 2010.

Maura Magazine is designed in a similar fashion to other digital magazines from 29th Street Publishing – a look that feels more like a Kindle Edition or something created with iBooks Author. I think those who think Marco Arment is on to something with his own digital magazine, but digital magazine designers with print backgrounds may think this is going way to minimal.

Maura, by the way, refers to the editor Maura Johnson, and the app description says that the new digital magazine will appear weekly. While the first issue can be viewed for free, monthly subscriptions will cost readers $2.99, while an annual subscription is priced at $29.99.

Update: New Bonnier Corp. CEO names Eric Zinczenko head of all U.S. magazine brands

In his first day as the new CEO of Bonnier Corp. Dave Freygang has created a new position, executive vice president in charge of all U.S. magazine brands. The first to hold the position will be Eric Zinczenko, previous in charge of the Men's Group.

Prior to joining Bonner in 2006 Zinczenko spent two stints at Rodale working in sales on Bicycling and later as publisher of Backpacking.

The Bonnier Men's Group includes such titles as Field & Stream and Outdoor Life, and incorporates the Technology Group with its titles Popular Science and Popular Photography. Previous to that role at Bonnier Zinczenko was in charge of the Outdoor Group alone.

"I want to get things done quickly — be fast and proactive. Recognizing Eric was the first step,” said new Bonnier Corp. CEO Freygang. "Since 2006, every Bonnier brand Eric has had the opportunity to work on has improved. Now I am looking forward to having him help our group publishers and business leaders in expanding their businesses and achieve the results we can expect with his vision and leadership."

Morning Brief: Digital ad pro proves very old school as head of Time Inc.; Terry Snow retires as CEO at Bonnier, replaced by long time colleague Dave Freygang; Hearst Newspapers update their tablet edition apps

There were those who wondered if Laura Lang, the head of digital ad agency Digitas, had the old school publishing background necessary to run a magazine company, Time Inc. But after one year Lang seems to have some old school skills, after all – bringing in consultants, then chopping heads.

Hired at the end of 2011 to turn around the magazine company, one of Lang's first moves was to bring in Bain & Co. consultants, a sign, some said, that Lang didn't know what to do in her new role outside the world of advertising agencies. Others (including this site) speculated that Bain would provide the cover necessary to chop heads.

According to reports last week, the heads will begin to roll as 700 positions are said to be eliminated when the time comes this quarter.

2012 was not a banner year for many of the Time Inc. titles: Real Simple, for instance, saw its ad pages fall over 17 percent. Time, People, Sports Illustrated, and Entertainment Weekly all also saw ad pages fall between 4 and 11 percent during the year, with only InStyle netting any ad page gains in 2012 (5.4 percent).

In addition to the staff cutbacks, Adweek is reporting that Time Magazine will also cut its frequency in 2013, producing three double issues in the year, versus only one double issue in 2012.

On Friday Bonnier Corp. announced CEO Terry Snow would be retiring, effective on Monday, January 14 (that would be today). Named to replace Snow was Dave Freygang, who has been serving as Executive Vice President for Bonnier’s Active Interest Division.

Freygang is a money guy, originally brought in 23 years ago by Snow to act as CFO of World Publications. World Publications at the time before it was acquired by Swedish publisher Bonnier, was comprised of such titles as Yachting, Islands, and Saveur Saveur being the old ball property as it was not tied to sports fishing and other Florida past times, and was published out of NYC.

"I’m very excited to be offered this new position,” Freygang said in the company announcement. "We see many new opportunities for our brands as we continue to expand our digital platforms and grow new audiences. These are both challenging and exciting times for special interest media and I look forward to working with the rest of the company to grow and strengthen Bonnier’s position in the U.S. market."

Hearst Newspapers this morning issued updates to its four newspaper tablet editions: San Francisco Chronicle for iPad, Houston Chronicle for iPad, San Antonio Express-News for iPad and Albany Times Union for iPad. The updates are bug fix related.

Other than these tablet editions, only one other tablet product has come out of a Hearst Newspaper lately, and that was 49er Insider, a tablet magazine created using the Mag+ platform. It turns out that venture was a pretty smart idea as the 49ers this weekend beat the Green Bay Packers to advance to the NFC championship game.