Friday, February 8, 2013

And then there was Apple... The Department of Justice announces that they have settled with Macmillan, leaving one last litigate in e-book pricing case

The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement with Macmillan in the e-book case where major book publishers and Apple were "accused of conspired to eliminate retail price competition." All the publishers – Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, and now Macmillan have settled with the DOJ. That leaves only Apple left. The trial against the Cupertino company is scheduled to begin in June of this year.

"As a result of today’s settlement, Macmillan has agreed to immediately allow retailers to lower the prices consumers pay for Macmillan’s e-books," said Jamillia Ferris, Chief of Staff and Counsel at the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. "Just as consumers are already paying lower prices for the e-book versions of many of Hachette’s, HarperCollins’ and Simon & Schuster’s new releases and best sellers, we expect the prices of many of Macmillan’s e-books will also decline."

The DOJ says that the accused book publishers, plus Apple, were attempting to stop the heavy discounting of e-books and illegally worked together to "eliminate price competition, substantially increasing prices paid by consumers."

The DOJ describes the settlement with the last of the four book publishers in its announcement:
Under the proposed settlement agreement, Macmillan will immediately lift restrictions it has imposed on discounting and other promotions by e-book retailers and will be prohibited until December 2014 from entering into new agreements with similar restrictions. The proposed settlement agreement also will impose a strong antitrust compliance program on Macmillan, including requirements that it provide advance notification to the department of any e-book ventures it plans to undertake jointly with other publishers and regularly report to the department on any communications it has with other publishers. Also for five years, Macmillan will be forbidden from agreeing to any kind of most favored nation (MFN) provision that could undermine the effectiveness of the settlement.
In his message today, John Sargent, chief executive at Macmillan, explained what motivated the publisher to settle with the DOJ.
There are two reasons we did not settle earlier. First, the settlement called for a level of e-book discounting we believed would be harmful to the industry. We felt that if only three of the big six publishers were required to discount and we stood firm, those problems might be avoided. But when Random House agreed to be bound by the Penguin settlement, it became clear that all five of the other big six publishers would be allowing the whole agent’s commission to be used as discount, and Macmillan’s stand-alone selling at full agency price would have no impact on the overall marketplace. And in addition, your books and our business would have a pricing disadvantage for two years.

The second reason was simpler. I had an old fashioned belief that you should not settle if you have done no wrong. As it turns out, that is indeed old fashioned.

End of the week media app wrap-up: first tablet edition for B2B title CFO Magazine; more iOS 6.1 related app updates from media properties using the Adobe DPS

Few qualified circulation B2B titles have as large a readership as CFO, the ten time per year magazine published by CFO Publishing out of Boston, Mass. At 443,219 in its last BPA audit statement, it is quite a monster of a magazine, its readership split into three parts: those who are actual CFOs or have similar titles, those who are in executive management, and other financial and operations personnel.

Today the B2B title launched its first tablet edition, using Tapedition to create the Newsstand app. CFO Magazine The result, as with most (if not all) Tapedition apps is a replica edition, and quite a hefty one at that - the issue inside this app is 666 MB, maybbe the biggest replica I've come across.

Swiping through the issue inside, the January/February issue, I'm at a loss to understand why it is so large, though the pages (just images) do render slowly, so maybe this is an optimization issue.

Tapedition apps appear under the name of the publisher (yeah) as they require that you get a developer license (only $99 per year, simple process, do it), then the company charges a flat $499 a month fee, with a $199 per month option for Android. The company also offers a $999 one-time fee option if you want to offer your magazine free to your current subscribers, one of the few vendors I've seen to offer this service publicly.

I have a feeling that a large number of TNM readers were well aware of why so many media apps have been updated since the introduction by Apple of iOS 6.1 – I just wish someone would have dropped me a line to tell me!
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Today, for instance, the Denver Post's tablet magazine, Denver Post Colorado Ski Guide (TNM original post here), PowerSource from Santee Cooper (TNM post on the excellent new digital magazine here), and Rogers Publishing's B2B title Marketing Magazine (TNM original post here), all were updated today and list iOS 6.1 as the reason.

The reason for the large number of updates, as I guessed, involves Adobe DPS. This notice appeared on the Adobe website about a week ago:
The recent release of iOS 6.1 exposed an issue with DPS viewers that have in-app purchasing enabled. This issue causes the viewer to crash when a network connection is not available. This includes situations where Wi-Fi or cellular network connections are not available, or when the device is in airplane mode. All viewers built with release 24 and earlier of the DPS tools are affected and will crash when a network connection is not available. Release 25 viewers are unaffected. Single Edition applications, regardless of release, are unaffected.

We have released a hotfix, now available through DPS App Builder, to resolve this in release 24 viewers. Customers who have live apps in the app store with release 24 or earlier should re-build their applications to release 24 or 25 with DPS App Builder and re-submit the viewer to Apple for approval.
So far, at least other digital publishing platforms have not reported any specific issues with iOS 6.1, which is why we're not seeing updates across the board on those apps.

"We're not seeing any issues there yet. All of our apps seem to be working fine out of the box on 6.1 without an update," Mag+’s Chief Product Officer Mike Haney said.

Taking the easy way out to avoid having to learn the new digital platforms usually leads to trouble down the line

There is not a day that goes by that I am not solicited to attend some industry event, I'm sure the same is true for you. If I had an unlimited budget I'm quite sure I could go from industry conference to industry conference and never see the inside of my office for the entire year.

But what would I learn at these events? Not much that would prove helpful, if glancing at the agendas is any guide. Most use vendors to fill up their programs, and some events, especially in B2B are dominated by subjects that are designed to hurt their members (re: content marketing).

Part of the problem lies in the fact that at most publishing companies traveling to industry events is now limited to the corporate offices. A decade or more ago many conferences dedicated a large portion of the program to items specifically designed for editors, sales managers, production heads or circulation directors. Today, at many magazine and newspaper companies, only the head honchos travel on the company's dime.

This probably accounts for so many of the really bad decisions many publishers are making in the area of mobile and tablet applications – a favorite subject of mine. Yes, we can discuss the issue of replica editions versus native apps all day long and it would bore you as much as me. But there are plenty of other related problems associated with giving your magazine title away to a replica vendor.
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Take, for instance, the issue of ownership of the app. No industry conference, that I am aware of, has had a session involving the ins-and-outs of developer accounts, app naming and ownership, and the pitfalls of letting a third party manage your apps.

Who exactly is the publisher of Black+White Photography, for instance? (You wouldn't know it from the app description, but it's GMC Publications.)

I remember a couple of years ago when apps started to appear under the name Tri Active Media. Who is this company, I asked myself. They sure seem to own a lot of magazines, yet I'd never heard of them. For a company with nearly 500 iPad magazine apps in the App Store one would think the company dwarfs Condé Nast. But the company has no website under that name that appears related to these apps, and the link in the app description goes to PocketMags, which is related to MagazineCloner.

Yet lots of publishers appear quite willing to have their magazines appear inside the App Store under the name of this company and deal with the negative reviews that accompany these apps. Why?

Because they are still learning how the system works, how a magazine is "sold" in the App Store, and what is involved with launching new applications. As a result, a vendor that promises a cheap and easy launch can easily (apparently) sell their wares inside our industry.

But once locked in, a publisher now find they have a few problems. How, for instance, do they launch another app under the same name – the name of their magazine? (They can't, unless they open a new developer account.) How do they get their apps updated to fix bugs and are driving one-star reviews? (They can't, they are dependent on the vendor to keep their apps up-to-date.) How do they transition a paid app to a free one with Newsstand support? (Again, they can't, that is the job of the vendor.)

If a publisher knew all this before they launched a new mobile or tablet app they might think twice before committing to a digital publishing solution that promotes the brand of the vendor more than the publisher. But industry events that are filled with golf, tours and vendor speeches remain very much the norm. No wonder we are such easy marks.

Morning Brief: Media observers get the digital circulation story very, very wrong; transferring the ownership of a print magazine may prove easier than moving those new mobile and tablet apps to the new company name

Yesterday the AAM, the organization that audits the paid circulation of most major magazines, released its report for the final six months of 2012. In the press release the AAM said that digital replica editions accounted for 2.4 percent of total circulation of the magazines in the report. What followed as a parade of media reporters repeating the meme that digital circulation, therefore, still represented a "tiny" portion of overall circulation. Those reports, seen in AdAge, AdWeek paidContent, and other sources, were then scraped by the usual aggregators.

It is sad that few media reporters can work beyond the press release and think on their own about their industries. The fact is that with new digital-only publications launching every day, and with many magazine publishers not part of the AAM process, that many paid digital subscriptions are not counted in the new AAM report. That is why a jump from under 1 percent of total paid circulation being digital, to 2.4 percent with this report, is a large jump – because it represents the largest print magazines, and not a single one of the new digital-only titles being launched. In others words, you are seeing the tip of the iceberg.

But that won't stop the media reporters, who seemingly can not write stories without a press release, and who refuse to stop for a second and think about their subjects before writing their stories. Our industry is poorly served by these trade publications, many of whom have been critical of the new digital platforms, and who themselves have been late in launching their own digital products. Our industry trade publications are not leaders, they are anchors.

One of the fact of life of magazine publishing is that titles get sold. Some media companies, especially in B2B, trade magazine titles like playing cards, adjusting and refining their portfolios and building new industry groups. Sometimes, of course, whole companies are sold off to other publishers or financial interests.

This brings up the question of what happens to those mobile and tablet apps that were launched by the former owner. How easy is it to transfer those apps to an account for the new publisher?

Not so easy, it turns out.

This came up when I looked inside the App Store to check out the apps for the British Journal of Photography. On Wednesday TNM posted the news that the management team behind the magazine had bought out the book from Incisive Media and created a new digital media start-up, Apptitude Media.

Both the iPhone and iPad editions remain under the name of Incisive Media, and so I asked about the transfer process. What I got back was this:

"The app transfer is a real pain as you cannot transfer individual apps to a new owner, only a whole app account - and as Incisive has its own apps this is not an option," said Marc Hartog, CEO of Apptitude Media.

"Our plan is to launch a new version alongside, and use the existing shell and data to promote the new version. We will stop selling subs once the new version is live, and we have a transitional agreement with's lucky this is a friendly deal. Apple will have to sort this out."

View this morning from the office window

If you live on the east coast I don't suppose you need to be warned about the approach of Nemo, a giant snow storm that is drawing much of its energy from a storm that passed over the Midwest yesterday. That storm dropped a half a foot of snow over portions of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin (including my house).

Already over 3,000 flights have been cancelled, and the snow is just starting to fall in NYC. Because the storm will be drawing up moisture from the south, this may result in even more snow than what the Midwest encountered yesterday.

In other words, a lot of New Yorkers will be leaving their offices early today and will be difficult to contact.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Issues to come, issues that are here: Chicago Sun-Times launches Sport, delivered to iPads every Sunday through the Newsstand; BÜZE Magazine moves on to its second issue as it looks to build readership

Today the Chicago Sun-Times released another new tablet magazine into the Apple Newsstand, though without any issues to download at this point. Sport by Chicago Sun-Times is a digital magazine that will be delivered to readers each Sunday and will cover all the local area sports teams.

The new tablet magazine joins Bears Extra, Bulls Extra, College Football Gridiron as sports magazine built for the iPad. The Sun-Times also has its main news app Chicago Sun-Times for iPad and Splash, its social magazine. And, before I forget, there is an older stand-alone app, as well, Chicago Sun-Times, which is also for the iPhone and which mirrors the content from the paper's website.

Right now there is not much to say about the new app since the first issue won't be available, I would assume, until Sunday. Readers, though, can still subscribe to the Newsstand app for free inside and I would guess their first issue will be delivered to them automatically some time on Sunday morning, or even Saturday evening. Sorry, I don't know more than this because getting media folk to call you back (or even the publishing vendor) is nearly impossible. Maybe I should have told them I was Jim Romenesko, that might have gotten them to respond.

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While the Sun-Times new app has nothing to show right now, another recently released tablet magazine is moving on to its second issue. Büze Magazine (here is TNM's original post on the app) this month features Bertha González of Casa Dragones on the cover and is looking to build off the success of the first issue (which featured Dan Aykroyd on the cover).

Cary Hyodo, the magazine's director, told me that the app has been downloaded 1,200 times so far and that subscriptions are slow. But they have been pleased with the international interest in the digital magazine. "What I found interesting was that, besides the obvious Euro/North American downloads, we also have downloads from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Australia, NZ, Mexico, China and Turkey."

They'll hoping to improve their download and subscription rates with the second issue and they should do this as they have a nice website in support, as well as a media kit for ad sales.

Single issues inside the app are available for $3.99, and an annual subscription is priced at $19.99.

Digital magazine tidbits: Tourist Office of Spain in Chicago launches its own online digital magazine, Meet in Spain; more iOS 6.1 app updates for magazine tablet editions

The Tourist Office of Spain in Chicago has launched its own online digital magazine, Meet in Spain, open to both tourist professionals and the public at large free of charge.

The new digital magazine is a Flash flipbook that will be published ten times per year with the introductory edition featuring general information and highlights about the MICE industry (meetings, incentives and conventions) in Spain. Future issues will have specific topics such as the cities and regions of Spain seasonal offers, etc.
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"Our magazine is an example of one of the latest tourism marketing trends, and forms part of a global strategy of leveraging innovation and modern technology as an educational, promotional and marketing tool for Spain," said Jorge Rubio Navarro, consul in charge of tourism affairs and director of the Tourist Office of Spain in Chicago.

The number of magazine apps that are being updated, and citing the introduction of iOS 6.1, keeps growing. At this one wonders if the conflict here involves Adobe (?).

Wallpaper Magazine North America, Rogers Publishing's B2B title Canadian Grocer, Summit's Weekend Magazine and the magazines from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (Martha Stewart Living Magazine for iPad, for instance) have all issued updates in the past 24 hours that talk about iOS 6.1 compatibility.

Overnight Buses Travel Magazine also was updated, but that update lacked its app icon for awhile, but its there now (can't slip anything by me, folks).

AAM releases year end 2012 circulation figures for Top 25 consumer magazines; more than 7.9 million 'digital replica editions' reported, 2.4% of total circulation

I really don't know what to make of the new circulation numbers being reported by the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) and that may be precisely the point now, to make a mush of the circulation data. The problem lies in the organization's definition of "digital replica edition" which tries to define what a digital magazine is, and how it can be counted. As a result, some publishers are pushing hard to make sure they can show circulation gains by counting their digital editions, while others are designing their digital publications as separate products and are, therefore, outside the AAM rules. It's all a big game, isn't it?

In any case, the AAM is reporting for the total number of magazine titles reporting, 402, year-over-year circulation levels decreased 0.3 percent, mostly caused by single-copy sales, which fell 8.2 percent.

But the big number is that more than 7.9 million "digital replica editions" are now being reported, up over 46 percent from the 5.4 million reported just six months ago. This total does not even count the magazines not reporting into the AAM, or those that do not qualify as a digital replica, based on the AAM's rules.

(For those a bit outside the industry, one should not mistake the use of the term "digital replica" here for a PDF version of a print magazine. Here "digital replica" simply applies to any digital magazine with the same advertising (with the exception of fractional ads) and editorial content.)

Canadian publishers saw overall paid and verified circulation fall 3.5 percent in the 6-month reporting period, but single copy sales were down a smaller 1.2 percent.

More earnings: McClatchy reports loss in Q4; print ad revenues fall, though digital-only revenue up nearly 15%

It's earnings season and another time for newspapers to report their bleak results. For McClatchy that means reporting that it suffered a net loss in the final quarter of 2012 of $30.0 million, including a $60.0 million after-tax loss on debt refinancing. On the bright side, total digital advertising revenue grew 3.5 percent in Q4, with digital-only advertising revenues up 14.9 percent over 2011.

"Our unrelenting focus on growing our digital business continues to be rewarded. Total digital advertising revenues in the fourth quarter of 2012 were up 3.5% on a 13-week basis," Pat Talamantes, McClatchy's President and CEO, said. "Our digital traffic also grew in the quarter with daily average local unique visitors to our websites and mobile content up 3.4% compared to the same quarter of 2011. Digital-only revenues were up double digits for every quarter in 2012 with the fourth quarter up 14.9%. Digital advertising now represents 20.2% of McClatchy's total advertising revenues compared to 18.5% in 2011. McClatchy's digital advertising revenues reached a record high in 2012 of $197.0 million on a 52-week basis."

The thing that struck me while looking at the numbers was that ad revenue fell in Q4 in every market served by McClatchy, though only California, home to the Sacramento Bee, ended the year in the red.

Because of this, 2013 may end up being a make or break year for the newspaper publisher, and Q1 results will show whether they can stem their ad revenue losses going forward.

The New York Times Co. reports Q4 spike in profits due to asset sales; total revenue grows 5.2%, print advertising falls 3.1%; digital ad revenue barely grows in 2012

The New York Times Company reported a spike in fourth quarter earnings due to the sale of and the About Group. Net income rose to $176.9 million, a 200 percent increase over the prior year. Though these were one-time transactions, the company was also able to report an increase in total revenue thanks to a 16.1 percent increase in circulation revenue.

Print advertising revenue from the media company's newspapers declined in the period by 5.6 percent, though digital ad revenue grew by 5.1 percent in Q4. Guidance going forward into 2013 is cautious, with the company saying that it expects single digit revenue growth.

The NYT said it now had 668,000 paid digital subscriptions across the company.

"The demonstrated willingness of users here and around the world to pay for the high quality journalism for which The New York Times and the company’s other titles are renowned will be a key building block in the strategy for growth, which we are currently developing and which I will have much more to say about later in the year," Mark Thompson, president and chief executive of the NYT said.

Digital ad revenue came in at $69.0 million, but for the full year the company could barely record any growth in digital advertising, coming in at $214.8 million for 2012 compared with $214.5 million in 2011. Digital ad revenue now accounts for nearly a quarter of all ad revenue, 24.7 percent, up from 22.7 percent – though, obviously, that growth is the result of declines in print, not growth in digital, a continued problem for the media company.

Morning Brief: NY gets ready for snow dump, while Chicago/Milwaukee get hit today; Dennis acquires Computer Active; new BlackBerry models reportedly selling briskly in the UK and Canada

I doubt you read TNM for the weather, but if you live in the Midwest or Northeast it is hard to not think about the subject this morning. Freezing rain is playing havoc with rush hour traffic this morning in the Chicago area, north into Wisconsin. The same system is expected to dump up to a foot of snow on eastern New York into New England this weekend.

Be careful out there, OK?

Yesterday TNM reported on the creation of a new digital media company, Apptitude Media, whose management bought out the ownership of the British Journal of Photography from Incisive Media.

It turns out that the BJP was not the only property disposed of by Incisive Media this week. Dennis Publishing acquired Computer Active from Incisive, a monthly magazine with a circulation of 118,188. The first issue of the title to be published by Dennis will appear February 7.

"We acquire brands with a view to invest and improve them, which is exactly what we plan to do with Computer Active," said James Tye, Dennis Publishing CEO.

Staying in the UK for a moment, the Guardian's Roy Greenslade today reminds us that next week British magazines will be set to release new circulation figures that will combine both print and digital.

"Many magazine brands are demonstrating that digital is the natural extension to their extensive and robust print base. The uptake of tablets by consumers is fuelling demand," said Barry McIlheney, the head of the Professional Publishers Association.

Early reports sat that BlackBerry is still finding a market, with sales in both the UK and Canada reportedly very brisk.

"In Canada, yesterday was the best day ever for the first day of a launch of a new BlackBerry smartphone. In fact, it was more than 50% better than any other launch day in our history in Canada," said Thorsten Heins, President & CEO of BlackBerry. "In the UK, we have seen close to three times our best performance ever for the first week of sales for a BlackBerry smartphone."

I'm not sure this should come as much of a surprise. There are a lot of BlackBerry owners out there, and while many have been abandoning the platform, many others are locked in. What these customers want, in the end, is a good mobile communications device, and if BlackBerry can deliver that then these customers don't have to make that painful move to a new platform. Both Apple and Android device owners are in the same position: locked into a platform where it is easier to stay with their current operating system than migrate to another and start over.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

British digital consultancy, calls9, launches new tablet magazine to promote French wine: Champagne World

A digital consultancy from Leeds in the U.K. has launched a new tablet-only magazine into Apple's Newsstand to promote the interests of French wine, specifically Champagne. Champagne World is a free app, and the issues that will reside inside will also be free to download.

Produced by calls9 Limited, this is the second app to be launched by the company – the first being a stand-alone iPad app for Bradford Grammar School, BGS Showcase, described as "an independent co-educational day school with a long history of educating bright boys and girls in the UK."

That app was built to be read in landscape, so it probably shouldn't be a surprise that the publishers have chosen to design Champagne World to be read in landscape, as well. This is becoming more and more common, depending on the subject of the tablet magazine. Many readers prefer holding their iPads in landscape, and the advantages of the orientation for photography and video content is obvious.
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The only thing odd about the app is that the designers have used the term "swipe" when showing readers that there is more content in a text box, when they really mean scroll. Scroll means up and down, swipe means right to left. Oh well, it is a minor point.

The only other thing I wish I knew for sure would be who is the client here. In the U.S. we generally want our branded magazines to be a little more upfront about who is footing the bill for the magazine.

Champagne World's editor is Geoff Thornton, while calls9's owners, Adam Roney and Pete Mills are listed here as digital manager and sales manager, respectively.

MPA president Mary Berner issues response to news that the US Postal Service will end Saturday mail delivery

Here is the statement just issue by the MPA, The Association of Magazine Media, in response to the news this morning that the U.S. Postal Service will end Saturday mail delivery (while continuing with Saturday package delivery, as well as mail delivery to post office boxes):
MPA-The Association of Magazine Media represents consumer magazines, among them weekly titles, that may be most impacted by the United States Postal Service announcement this morning to cease Saturday delivery, with the exception of packages, effective August 5, 2013. Like Congress, MPA was taken by surprise by today’s announcement. While we have actively participated in conversations around postal reform, and in particular, five-day delivery, we did not expect the USPS would act unilaterally, without Congressional approval, and we await Washington’s reaction and more details.

Advocating for our members, MPA has long been a driving force behind postal legislation and policy. In 2011, we testified that five-day delivery would require substantial operational changes from some weekly magazines that often want delivery on Friday and Saturday so readers can enjoy their content over the weekend. Despite the difficulties the schedule change would entail, MPA told Congress we were willing to make changes if the shift to five-day delivery and resultant cost savings for the Postal Service were part of a comprehensive package of long-term reforms that would ensure a viable postal system for the foreseeable future. The move to five-day delivery would require substantial preparation on the part of affected magazines. We note that the Postal Service appears to have taken this consideration to heart, proposing the changes go into effect six months from now.
– Mary Berner, President & CEO, MPA

A digital media start-up launched by the team behind the British Journal of Photography & Popular Science UK; Apptitude Media promises 'to help reinvent the magazine'

A management buyout by the publishing team behind the British Journal of Photography has led to the formation of a new digital media start-up company, Apptitude Media. The new company will be led by Marc Hartog as CEO, who was the Group Publishing Director at Incisive Media, the previous owner. Incisive will be taking a minority stake in the new media company.
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The new company, currently 15 staffers, also are producing the UK edition of Popular Science (UK App Store link) and the iPad edition of 125 Magazine (US App Store link). All three tablet editions are still appearing in the Apple Newsstand as being sold by Incisive Media and will have to migrated over to a new developer account.

Also, all three tablet editions were built using the Mag+ platform – many members of the Mag+ team, including the CEO, Gregg Hano, come from Bonnier, the publisher of Popular Science. "In my opinion the team are doing some of the best work in the digital publishing space, among the top 1% of digital publishers in the world," said Hano in the launch announcement.

Marc Hartog
Joining the new media venture are Mick Moore, creative director; Tom Royal, CTO; Simon Bainbridge, editorial director; and Marc Ghione, marketing director. Daisy Dorras will major client manager for BJP, while Stuart Munro will fill the same role for Popular Science UK and 125 Magazine.

"I am looking forward to working with a world class team, fresh ideas and new launches, working hard, having fun, and just being part of the most exciting time in publishing in a generation," said Marc in the announcement.

Apptitude Media will be offering digital publishing consulting services to other publishers which to launch digital editions, and will be seeking additional partnership opportunities.

It's been awhile since we've look at the tablet edition of the BJP, so here is a brief walk-through video of the Best of 2012 issue currently to be found within the iPad app:

Amazon to roll out its own virtual currency, Amazon Coins, for customers to pay for apps, games or in-app purchases

The Amazon Mobile App Distribution Team today announced that the company will soon launch its own virtual currency for U.S, customers. Amazon Coins will launch in May, and will the online retailer's equivalent of promo codes – those codes used inside the Apple iTunes store - and the company said it will be giving out "tens of millions of dollars worth of Coins to customers to spend on Kindle Fire apps, games, or in-app items."

The announcement of the new virtual currency was sent to Amazon Mobile App Developers this morning.

"For customers, it's an easy way to spend money on Kindle Fire apps and games," Amazon's developer relations team wrote. "They'll be able to purchase as they do now, but with the ability to choose to pay with a credit card or using Coins. For you, it's another opportunity to drive traffic, downloads, and increased monetization. Plus, there's no integration required--you'll get paid the same 70% revenue share whether the customer chooses to use Coins or their own money."

Amazon said the developers need to make sure their new apps and updated apps are submitted and approved by April 25 in order to be sure they can utilize Amazon Coins at launch.

B2B: Existing digital publishing platforms don't give B2B publishers very attractive choices when launching their first tablet editions

More and more B2B tablet editions and stand-alone apps are appearing in Apple's App Store these days as the era of experimentation continues. Some publishers, such as Cygnus Business Media, have taken leadership roles by launching new apps fairly regularly, while others either outsource their efforts, or continue to opt out – at least for now. One of the biggest issues continues to be choosing a digital publishing platform that will be appropriate for their publications.

One option remains outsourcing the app development. Landscape, the Journal of the Landscape Institute has gone this route.
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The Landscape Institute is a UK organization for landscape architects and the organization has chosen to bring in CoCreate Design & Marketing, a UK web design and marketing agency to build their first tablet edition for their magazine.

Unfortunately, the results are less than satisfactory. What the app delivers is simply a replica edition that presents the print magazine as a missized tablet edition – the print pages don't really fit the screen of the iPad. But much worse is the fact that the organization's pride and joy, its magazine, is now sold under the developer's name inside Apple's Newsstand. This loss of control goes down to the app description that is limited to one sentence, and to screenshots that don't really show much.

For many trade associations with their own publications, building out digital publishing capabilities really is not an option. If the association is currently doing the production and editorial work in-house, the move to digital is a sign of danger for the staff, knowing that outsourcing the magazine might become an attractive option down the line. For custom publishing firms, however, strong digital publishing skills can prove to be a good way of attracting new business – not only from trade associations, but from brands looking to launch their own first tablet apps. The world of mobile and tablet publishing, therefore, looks a lot like the first days of Internet publishing did in the late nineties, with new players coming in to pick off new customers.
Cygnus Business Media continues to be one of the few B2B publishers actively experimenting with tablet editions. Experimenting, I believe, is the right word, because many of their apps feel like efforts to see what will work, what will attract readers, and what the company can do on its own.

Near the end of the year one of its titles, Feed & Grain, released its first iPad app for its Feed & Grain 2013 Equipment & Service Guide.

The B2B title is a BPA-audited trade magazine with 15,706 readers in its last statement. Published only 7 times per year, this is an interesting title to look at in terms of the new digital platforms. Few industry journals of this size have launched anything inside the App Store.

The new app most like was created using the Adobe DPS Single Edition solution as the app does not support Newsstand and is free of charge for readers. The size of the download, 661 MB, would lead one to think that the resulting digital publication would be one of those giant sized buyers guide some B2B publishers used to produce once a year during the heyday of the industry. It's not, the app is a moderately sized digital product with a single sponsor, Sweet Manufacturing.

I enthusiastically applaud the experiment here, even if the results seem to not hit the mark. To produce so huge a digital file for so little content shows the limitations of the digital publishing solution. Nonetheless, Cygnus now has 16 iPad apps available, which is way more than most B2Bs. But the apps are stuck in a rut - similar looking landscape formatted tablet editions that don't always serve the magazines very well.

It is possible that a move to another platform, such as Mag+ or Aquafadas (or something else) could provide a different perspective. After all, the goal here should be to create a tablet edition that will attract industry readers wanting a digital publication each month. But if the company is committed to the Adobe DPS then there is no doubt that the platform is versatile enough to produce digital magazine different than those created so far. Keeping file sizes down, though, will continue to be a challenge.

Morning Brief: Emmis updates its apps for their regional magazines; Vine keeps trying to improve the experience, issues 4th update for video sharing app; the USPS to announce end of Saturday delivery of mail today

Yesterday's Morning Brief mentioned that a number of media apps were rushing out updates due to the recent release of iOS 6.1 by Apple. Those apps showed that some readers were encountering bugs that needed to be fixed, and hence the updates.

Today Emmis Communications, the city/regional magazine publisher (and broadcaster) today released app updates for its six magazine apps and again the excuse was iOS 6.1. But where the readers of the magazine apps updated yesterday were clamoring for the updates, these apps seem to have been launched and then disappeared in the App Store – few have any reviews at all, and those that do are generally negative. The problem appears to be that these apps are all replica editions, hard to read, exactly like the print editions, and force current subscribers to pay again for their magazines.

The problem with the strategy of forcing all readers to pay for digital is that it only works when the digital product is worth paying for. Hearst Magazines, for instance, gets negative reviews for its digital editions, too. But the digital editions are worth buying and so the reader is forced to make a choice: keep buying print or move to digital.

Here, with these apps – Texas Monthly, Los Angeles Magazine, Indianapolis Monthly, Cincinnati Magazine, Atlanta Magazine and Orange Coast Magazine – what you are seeing is that readers are avoiding paying for the digital edition again simply because it doesn't offer them anything they can't get in print (in fact, the experience is not as good as print). The lesson is clear: if you want to drive readers to digital you have to offer them a product designed for the reading device. If you are only offering them a replica, then don't make the print readers pay again.

If at first you don't succeed...

You have to hand it to the Twitter team, they are working hard to make sure their Vine app works and keeps customers using it. Today the app, Vine - Make a Scene, received yet another app update.

The new update is the forth since the app's launch on January 23 – that's more than one update per week. The app upon release was a disaster, crashing upon attempting to log-in. But the first app update fixed a lot of the problems and the development team has been updating the app to fix other bugs at a quick pace.

As a result, the negative reviews are going away and now the app has turned a corner and is getting universally positive reviews. Will this lead to the app catching on? I don't know, as I've yet to feel the urge to use the app. But at least I now know it will work properly. It certainly helps to have an in-house team of developers, right?

The U.S. Postal Service will announce officially today that they will be ending Saturday delivery of the mail in an attempt to save about $2 billion a year in costs. The USPS will still deliver packages on Saturday, however, to attempt to remain competitive with the other package delivery services. The change is expected to become effective August 1.

"The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits," said Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO in a statement obtained by the Huffington Post. "We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings."

"It's a proper business decision and (in the) long run, good for the Postal Service and good for Americans," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. told CBS News.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bookish launches, backed by major publishers including Hachette Book Group, Penguin and Simon & Schuster

Backed by three of the largest book publishers, Hachette Book Group, Penguin and Simon & Schuster, the book recommendation website Bookish has finally launched after a long delay. Sixteen other publishers are also involved in Bookish, including Random House, Scholastic, HarperCollins and Perseus Books Group. In essence, Bookish is an industry owned and operated website designed to drive direct sales.

"Today’s launch is a banner moment for readers, authors and publishers alike," said Carolyn Reidy, CEO at Simon & Schuster. "Bookish utilizes the publishers’ deep knowledge of our titles together with cutting edge technology to help readers make informed choices, and we look forward to growing and evolving the site in the service of helping readers find books."

But the launch of site, long delayed following its initial announcement in May of 2011, doesn't appear 100 percent up to speed. Links on books take readers to pages where the can, in theory buy the titles, but many of the books are listed as "not in stock". Where the books are in stock, prices are discounted at what one might call levels. Most titles offer both paperback and hardcover versions, as well as audio books and in many cases eBooks, as well.

But now launched Bookish has its own editorial team that will update the website daily and provide content on books and authors, opinion pieces and the like. But at its core are the books. Each title will have its own page and readers can buy the books directly. Authors, too, will have special pages.

"Bookish was created to serve as a champion of books, writers and, most importantly, readers," said Ardy Khazaei, CEO of Bookish in the launch announcement. "Ultimately, we seek to expand the overall marketplace for books, and whether a book gets into a reader’s hands via Bookish’s e- commerce partner or another retailer, everyone–from the publisher, to the retailer, the author and the reader–wins."

No doubt that readers won't be the only ones looking closely at Bookish. Regulators, having recently gone after Apple and the book publishers with claims of price fixing, will be watching.

"We received clearance for Bookish, but every time any of us talk about something we have to conform to the DOJ rules," Hachette Book Group CEO David Young told the AP. "We aren't behaving any differently than we were before, we just have to make sure that formal procedures are followed, like writing up a log after any meeting."

The Daily Mail releases yet another tablet edition, this one a reimagining of the tabloid paper specifically for the iPad

One category of newspaper that has much at stake with the tablet platform is the daily newspaper tabloid. Often bought on the way to work, read, and then discarded, the tabloid newspaper needs to find a new home on the tablet or smartphone or risk oblivion.

On the other hand, there are those who think that tabloids have the best shot at survival in print. Mostly bought in urban environments, where newspaper boxes and the newsstand have the best chance at remaining an viable institution, maybe tabloids will be around forever – who knows?

The Daily Mail, the UK's second largest national newspaper, is not about to take any chances. Already the paper has launched an app for its online property (MailOnline for iPad), a replica edition (Daily Mail Newspaper), an app specifically for the iPad mini (MailOnline Mini), as well as special occasion apps for such events as the wedding between a couple of cute rich kids (Mail on Sunday Royal Wedding), and apps for crossword and sudoku games.

Today Associated Northcliffe Digital Limited has released yet another iPad edition of the Daily Mail called Daily Mail Plus, this one a native reimagining of the daily newspaper specifically for the iPad.
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"Daily Mail Plus for iPad is a stunning new app that brings you all the content from the Daily Mail newspaper in a visually exciting and easy-to-read format - and features an array of interactive features and content exclusive to the app," reads the app description.

The tabloid newspaper has been reformatted for easy reading on the iPad, and its basic design has been successfully ported over to the tablet. Font sizes have been made appropriate, and the page designs have been made to fit within the confines of the iPad's display. That is, the entire page fits the screen and any scrolling that takes place is within the confines of the display. If the reader wants a text version of the story or to read more there is an icon that one taps that pulls up a pop-up window (see below-right).

The new app, along with the replica edition, can be found inside the Apple Newsstand.

Readers new to the paper, or those who want to see if reading the Daily Mail on their tablet is for them, can subscribe to the paper and receive their first 30 days free – so if interested in the paper's vision for a tabloid-tablet newspaper you should check it out. Subscriptions are priced at £2.99 a week or £9.99 a month. (The app description seems to assume that only Brits will be interested in subscribing so the prices are only in pounds. But the one month cost in the U.S. is $4.99.)

The Daily Mail also has two apps, one for smartphones and one for tablets, inside Google Play. Both are based on the newspaper's website, similar to their iOS companions.

TED Conferences adds subtitle translations to its universal iOS app in important Version 2.0 update

For me, one of the greatest things the iPad has brought is access to foreign publications – magazines and newspapers simply not available at my local newsstand, which went out of business in any event. What is missing still, however, is the kind of translation service similar to the Google Chrome browser, a simple solution that instantly translates the content from my favorite overseas publications.

One could say that this functionality will be coming soon, but I doubt it – Apple has its own agenda these days, and improving and adding to its iOS software no longer appears to be one of their priorities. (Instead, they remind me of the Detroit auto companies of the early seventies, doing whatever is necessary to make those quarterly numbers.)

So, if innovation in the area of translation is what needs to be achieved I think it will be coming from developers or other platforms.
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Last night one of the media apps that released an update was from TED Conferences. TED is a universal app that makes available what the organizers call "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world."

TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design, is owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation. The TED main conferences will be held in Long Beach and Palm Springs this year, then move to Vancouver and Whistler, Canada next year (not bad locations, if you ask me). Other TED events are held around the world.

The update to the iOS app brings it up to Version 2.0 and is an important update. The app description speaks of an improvement in the app's download speeds, but its biggest new feature is subtitles and translations.

From the app description, the new features and improvements to be found in the new update:
  • Subtitles: Over 90 languages available directly from our new video player, or over AirPlay
  • Translations: Browse a curated TED catalog in your preferred language
  • Speed: New talks and downloads get to your device quicker than ever
  • Improved videos: Faster buffering and more profiles for different connection speeds
There may be a problem with the app as updated, however. Several users have complained that the app no longer works with iOS 5. As many iPhone users have chosen not to update their devices because of the Maps debacle, this could lead to quite a number of negative reviews. A future update could, of course, solve any issues in this regard.

Morning Brief: Media app updates for the new indy art tablet magazine SFCALR, The Economist and others; Macy's app development team squashes a big bug!

Quite a number of media apps have been updated in the past 24 hours, many saying the update revolves around iOS 6.1, the recent update issued by Apple. I find this interesting because when iOS 6 came out a lot of developers found that their apps were now buggy and were forced to issue updates – now this rash of updates. That, in my opinion, put the source of the problems more at Apple than with the developer community. Just sayin'.

One media app updated today is for SFCALR, the new digital art magazine which last week I called a buggy mess – I'm sure they weren't happy about that. But today an update has been issued that the app description involves "graphical tweaks" and "bug fixes", so this should solve whatever problems I was encountering. More importantly, it shows that they are on top of the situation and willing to make adjustments. I suggest checking out the new digital magazine (US App Store link) which is designed to be read in landscape.

Other media app updates that are bug fixes include Newsweek for iPad featuring the outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the "cover".

By the way, if you haven't heard, the parent company is now being called NewsBeast rather than the rather awkward sounding The Newsweek/DailyBeast Company LLC. Both names are pretty silly, aren't they?

Two other magazines issuing iOS 6.1 updates have been The Economist for iPad and both tablet editions from America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Illustrated Magazine and Cook's Country Kitchen.

I couldn't happen but notice the app update from the department store chain Macy's. The update for their iPhone app, simply called Macy's. The development team had a bit of fun with the app description:
  • We’ve squashed a big bug! You can now search seamlessly: we fixed the issue with the back button bringing you to the beginning of your search results. It will now bring you back to the last search results page you viewed. How great is that?
  • A newly-designed shop screen & revised home screen make it easier than ever to navigate the app and shop incredible finds in the department of your choice.
  • iPhone 5 support. Woo-hoo!
  • Fixed other minor bugs.

When the folks at Folio: created and launched their Ning site called MediaPro the idea seemed to be be a good one. Hundreds of magazine media professionals soon signed up and completed their profiles. Eventually Folio was able to get over 6,000 people to sign up – quite an accomplishment I thought (and still do).

Two problems soon seemed to become apparent, though. One, you just can't seem to get media people to talk opening, no matter what the forum. Jobs are scarce and few want to discuss issues in so open a forum. Two, Ning never really got going the way some thought it would.

Ning launched in October of 2005, and now is part of Glam Media.

Folio: will continue to use its Facebook and LinkedIn pages to try and create communities, though the publication's real issue has always been that it has a substandard website that features a minimum of new content each day, listed in headline form. That content used to featured in the publication's e-newsletter, which pretty much eliminated the need to visit the website. Now, under the ownership of Access Intelligence, the emphasis has shifted to paid content, which again does little to bolster the website which is now behind a metered paywall.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Future PLC partners with the Press Association to create new digital magazine for the EPL: Football Week

The last of a series of posts today on brand new digital magazines/editions found this morning inside the Newsstand.

If the new digital edition of Phoenix Magazine was a modest but appropriate way to bring a print magazine to tablets, and if Outland Moto was a more adventurous way to launch a native tablet-only magazine, than the new digital magazine from Future PLC, Football Week (U.S. App Store link), is a pull-out-all-the-stops, go-for-broke attempt at the new medium.

Future has partnered with the Press Association, the UK’s multimedia news agency and digital content supplier, to launch Football Week. The magazine will preview every English Premier League game, and during the weekend, these stories will be updated with commentary and in-game stats. Afterwards, post-game analysis will be added.

Football Week also will have its own "official gaming partner". EA SPORTS Zone will feature tips, tactics and competitions around FIFA 13, the world’s best-selling sports game, and its most popular game mode, FIFA Ultimate Team. EA SPORTS will also promote Football Week to its social media audiences.

"We truly believe this is the ultimate accompaniment to the weekend’s Premier League action," said Mark Cantwell, Football Week's publisher. "We have focussed on filling the gaps that traditional media like TV, magazines and websites leave behind, to put the consumer at the heart of everything we do and complete their weekend football experience."

"Football Week is a unique iPad product and a genuine first for Future," said Mark Wood, Future's  CEO. "We are moving rapidly outside the boundaries of our traditional business and fusing the best aspects of print and web media together for the tablet. The Press Association has been the best partner possible for this new type of product and although their infrastructure and content are important it is their ambition and willingness to innovate with us that has been key."
Left: the splash page, seen briefly upon first opening the new app; Middle: the store page; Right: a linked page displaying other Future magazine apps.

Inside the app readers can buy single issues for £1.99 ($2.99 or €2.69). Two subscription options are available: 1 month for £3.99 ($5.99 or €5.49), or an annual subscription for £19.99 ($28.99 or €25.99). Obviously, since there is no print equivalent the new magazine doesn't have to deal with the issue of allowing print subscribers to log into the app. If you want to check out this new digital magazine, and you should, the app offers a one month trial subscription free.
"PA is working with Future because of its excellent publishing credentials on Newsstand."
– Tony Watson, Managing Director of the Press Association

The app uses Future's own software solution, FutureFolio. While many, if not most, of Future's digital magazines are replicas, this new digital magazine goes all out. In fact, I think quite a number of readers will find the app confusing and maybe even over the top. There is simply a lot here – from selecting favorite teams, to navigating the content. Readers will have to get comfortable with both the app and the way around it.

But Future has done something truly unique here. While local metro newspaper in the U.S. have begun producing sports tablet magazines for the coverage of local sports teams, few publishers have tried to launch a digital magazine covering one sports, but all the teams in a particular league. I would say that Future's launch of Football Week is sort of the sports equivalent of the launch of The Daily by News Corp.

Football Week may prove controversial as there are those, especially inside the tech community, who are arguing for more austere digital magazines – with simpler design, navigation and article layouts. Football Week is not terribly complicated with it comes to page design, but both the overall make up of the app and the navigation is certainly not replica-like. It will be interesting to see how other publishers, and especially readers, react to this tour-de-force new digital magazine.

(Video walk-through after the break.)

First look at Outland Moto, a new independent digital magazine for adventure motorcycle touring

Here is the second of a series of short posts about new magazines to be found inside the Newsstand – some from established brands, others from new publishers.

Magazine launches that originate in the offices of major publishers generally are well thought out ventures where the launch includes a professionally assembled media kit, press releases and launch parties. But new digital magazines from individuals or small, independent start-ups often are seat-of-the-pants affairs where an app is launched and only later is any thought given to marketing, ad sales and the like.

Even start-ups like Marco Arment's The Magazine appears to launch first move on to marketing. Luckily for Arment, Apple is helping him in a big way by currently promoting his independent digital magazine inside the App Store.
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Unfortunately, few independent publishers get this kind of marketing help from Apple. In fact, Apple's App Store redesign has really stuck it to their developer partners by making it virtually impossible to find new apps, and by promoting the big media companies.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't still new digital magazine launches coming from independents. No, the efforts of individual publishers, inspired by the iPad and the lowering (though not the eliminating) of financial barriers to magazine launches, has gotten hundreds of would-be publishers to work.

One of those are the folks behind Outland Moto, a new digital-only magazine launched this weekend into the Newsstand. Jim Vota is the editor/publisher, while AL Minotti is the Technology Director/CTO – it is his name the app appears under inside the App Store.

The new magazine is free to subscribe to and is designed exclusively for landscape reading. There is currently one issue to be found inside the app, labeled as Issue 0.

The digital magazine itself weighs in at around 72 MB, mostly because the content is fairly limited. The app, though, put a bit of a strain my on "new iPad", and as you will see in the video below, my iPad took a while to render the pages after each swipe. But other than the tiny fonts used (which should be increased in size for easier reading) the digital magazine is well designed and a native tablet read.

Looking through the supporting website one sees that the team behind Outland Moto is ahead of the game, already hosting a media kit in support of the new digital magazine. Prospective publishers will be interesting is seeing how the publisher is trying to work around the issue of ad pricing and demographics of a magazine that has just launched and is just now getting its first downloads.

Here is a brief walk-through Outland Moto:

City magazine Phoenix finds a comfortable middle ground between replica edition and native design

Let's start the new week with a series of short posts about new magazines to be found inside the Newsstand – some from established brands, others from new publishers.

The last few years have been tough ones for city/regional magazine publishers. While many regional magazine publishers were initially able to ward off ad page declines at the beginning of the recession, eventually the industry as a whole started to feel the effects of the depressed economy. Perhaps indicative of the slowdown is the fact that trade association that represents these publishers, the City and Regional Magazine Association, has updated their press release page in almost two years.

In addition, the new digital platforms of mobile and tablets seemed to not offer as much opportunity to regional publishers as it did national brands, due mostly to the low local penetration numbers. But this is beginning to change as more iPads and other tablets enter the market. Also, some publishers are seeing that there are some satisfactory digital publishing solutions available other than letting a vendor launch a replica edition.

Phoenix, published by Cities West Publishing Inc., has launched a new tablet edition that is a very comfortable mix of replica and reformatted editorial pages – a hybrid edition, as TNM calls them. The app's name is Phoenix Magazine . – with that period there, probably the result of having to rename the app during the process of launching it inside the Apple Newsstand (Apple doesn't allow separate apps from the same company using the same name - a potential problem for newspaper and magazine publishers rushing to launch a first app).
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The new Newsstand app offers individual issues for $4.99. But a monthly subscription is only $1.99, and an annual subscription is $14.99.

Cities West Publishing has moved slowly but surely into tablet publishing. An earlier app, Phoenix Magazine 2012 Arizona Travel Guide, as a paid stand-alone app ($1.99), while Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine was its first Newsstand app. Both Newsstand apps allow current print subscribers to sign into their accounts to access the digital issues free of charge, though the Home & Garden app does have some user reviews complaining about this function.

A quick check of Google Play does not show any apps for these titles, though I did find two apps in's Android app store, though both look to me like they have been designed for Android smartphone consumption rather than Android tablet.

Morning Brief: Richard III confirmed still very much dead; bug fix app updates from Facebook and the Food Network

While the U.S. media is obsessed this morning with discussing the disappearance of the 49ers defense, the British media world is a twitter with the news that University of Leicester researchers have found the body of Ricahrd III, the last Plantagenet king who died in 1485.

Source: University of Leicester
The skeleton of the humped back king was found at the site of the Grey Friars church in Leicester. To the disappointment of Shakespeare fans, no evidence was found for a withered arm. But the skeleton revealed severe scoliosis, the condition which made Richard III most famous. Further, the king's skull reveals the wounds, most likely from a sword and possible a halberd, that caused his fatal injuries at the Battle of Bosworth.

"The DNA sequence obtained from the Grey Friars skeletal remains was compared with the two maternal line relatives of Richard III," University of Leicester geneticist Dr Turi King said. "We were very excited to find that there is a DNA match between the maternal DNA from the family of Richard the Third and the skeletal remains we found at the Grey Friars dig."

William Shakespeare's play is famous for the line "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" spoken as the king thrown from his horse and subsequently killed.

Facebook has issued a new update to its universal iOS app. The update looks like it only just fixes bugs introduced.

The reason it is hard to see what the update brings is that Facebook's app team has the annoying habit of repeating the same app description text in each app update. So for versions 5.4, 5.4.1 and now 5.4.2 the Facebook app description has said it is now allowing users to share voice messages and video recordings. But the reality is that the last two updates just concern bug fixes.

Another media app update comes from the Food Network. Food Network On the Road (Official), as it is called to differentiate it from the magazine app from Hearst, is an unusually large app at 89.2 MB.

The app is universal and is designed to let users find Food Network recommended restaurants in the U.S.

Lufthansa became the latest airline to app Passbook support to its iPhone application. The updated app, simply named Lufthansa, is newly designed to support the iPhone 5's longer display.

The mobile app also allows users to store passport information, obtain current Lufthansa offers, and gain flight information, book flights and check on flight status.