Friday, May 3, 2013

TNM's official Mother's Day warning: send mum a card

Mother's Day is coming up in a couple of weekends so consider this your reminder to send dear ol' mum a card before it's too late.

If you are like me you probably use the Apple card app which allows you to choose a photo from your iPhone or iPad, and send off the card fairly quickly – and it's no more expensive that driving to the drug store to buy one, put a stamp on it and put it in the mail yourself (in fact, I find it cheaper).

Well, here is another option for you, another card app for sending handwritten cards from your iPad. Felt Cards are $3.99 to send (one dollar more than Apple Cards) but allow you to write your own card with a stylus. Here is the press release on this new app along with their video:

New App Brings Back Handwritten Cards: Signed, Sealed, Delivered--All From Your iPad
The FELT Cards iPad App revives old-school tradition

TELLURIDE, Colo., May 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Felt, a first-of-its-kind iPad app, enables people to write and send personal, handwritten cards in the mail. Instead of hunting for a stamp or envelope, you can now simply pull out your iPad, select from one of many expertly designed cards and handwrite a personal message on the touchscreen. Felt then prints, seals, stamps and sends the card for you.

Sending a handwritten thank you note was once a time-honored tradition. But with the rise of email, text messaging and social sites like Facebook, the majority of our correspondence has gone digital. Many people can't remember the last time they sent or received a handwritten card––a fact Felt hopes to change.

"We're communicating now more than ever, but nothing can replace the feeling of receiving something uniquely personal from a friend or loved one in the mail," says founder Tomer Alpert . "With Felt we wanted to make it easier for anyone to send a handwritten note, and bring back the excitement of opening your mailbox."

The Felt app offers several tools to customize your personal message, including different pens and inks, and a handy eraser. After composing your message, you also address the envelope by hand. For a flat rate of $3.99, your writing is printed on premium Mohawk card stock and a kraft paper envelope, then mailed within 24 hours anywhere in the US, via the US Postal Service. Felt plans to offer international shipping options in the near future.

The app features multiple card designs to choose from, for occasions ranging from birthdays to professional thank yous to Mother's Day. You can jot a quick note using just your finger, but the app's creators recommend using a stylus to write a longer message in your familiar pen stroke.

"Even though Felt cards are written on the iPad, when someone receives one in the mail, it looks just like you wrote it with a pen and paper," says Alpert. "And they can tell you really took the time to do something thoughtful."

Felt is a free iPad app and can be downloaded from the Apple App store.

Learn more at

WINE LR.: Balthazer Matita launches a new Apple Newsstand iPad app for its digital magazine focusing on the Languedoc Roussillon region

The flag for this new digital magazine is pretty cute – WINE LR. The designer has put part of the word "wine" in red, and the rest in white, so that the word can also read "vin" (wine in French, of course). Very cute, I love it.

And I also love wine, and I love wine from all over the world, and all over parts of France. Part of the joy of wine, I find, is in its discovery.

One region that doesn't get the big write-ups is Languedoc Roussillon, though if you live in the Bay Area you would be familiar with Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants which has specialized for decades in finding great wines in the less well-known wine districts of France.

Yesterday WINE LR. slipped into the Apple Newsstand and, as its name suggests, is dedicated to the wines of the region. Published by Balthazar Matita, a digital media publisher located in Aigues-Vives, France – which is near Montpellier, home to a famous school of enology.

Now, I don't know if you noticed that period at the end of the app's name. That is significant as this is actually the third app to be released from Balthazer Matita for Wine LR. There are two stand-alone apps that were previous release, both were universal – Wine LR (in French) and WINE LR EN (in English). Both apps were launched late last summer with updates issued in the fall.

WINE LR is really all about video and so must reimagine what a magazine is about. This is something that is near and dear to my heart because the more I get involved with both tablet magazine and interactive e-books the more I tend to think about the new digital platforms as being very distinct from print. I've always, always thought the tablet platform would be different from print – I learned to think this way from living through the dot com and Internet boom of the nineties. But, as usual, may print publishers are blind to this as they see the tablet platform merely as another distribution channel. What changes your mind about this, what puts the light bulb over your head, is getting hands-on with the platform.

Clearly the team at Balthazer Matita get it (and they should be named: Michel Redon, Director of Innovation and Head of Development;
Caroline Jauffret, Director of Production and Editorial Manager; and Carole Martin, Director of e-Marketing and Advertising).

While this new Newsstand app is very well done, it should be mentioned that the stand-alone apps are quite amazing, as well. The English language app opens to a short video and then allows you to download the stories. It is an interesting approach, and in many ways more unique than the new Newsstand app. But is also is missing the automatic download feature of a Newsstand app so it is possible that the publisher decided that the best way to handle new content would be through new issues inside a more traditional (if that is the right term) digital magazine format.

(I have to add that the stand-alone app features a story on Banyuls – yum!)

I hope, really, hope, that an English language version of the Newsstand app appears – it would be definitely worth paying for. (The new Newsstand app charges 0,90€ ($1.99) per issue and 9,99€ for a subscription.)

Here is a short look at the new WINE LR. Newsstand app:

The Washington Post Co. reports drop in earnings, rise in revenue due to higher television revenue, newspaper revenue down 4%

The Washington Post Co. reported lower earnings this morning due to one-charges due to severance charges brought on by layoffs at the newspaper division, as well as charges on gain on sales and on unrealized foreign currency gains. As a rseult, earnings fell 55 percent while revenue increased slightly due to strong television revenue.

The newspaper publishing division saw continuing revenue declines, with revenue down 3.9 percent in the quarter to $127.3 million, versus $132.5 million for the same quarter last year.

The media company reported gains in newspaper online revenue. Online revenue rose 8 percent to $25.8 million in the quarter, with display rising 16 percent, but classified advertising falling 6 percent in Q1 of 2013.

The Washington Post Co. completed the sale in March of The Herald, its daily newspaper in Everett, WA., so the newspaper division’s operating results now exclude the newspaper.

The Kaplan education division, which had been driving revenue and profit growth at the company for years also continued to see declines as revenue fell 3 percent in the quarter.

The Washington Post today also updated its new Newsstand app, The Washington Post for iPad. The update adds the crossword puzzles in an interactive format.

The Washington Post introduced its new iPad app in March (see original TNM post here), moving the app into the Apple Newsstand and adding access to the app access to the print edition. Access is free of charge right now, though the paper is expected to introduce a paywall soon.

Morning Brief: Barnes & Noble adds Google Play to NOOK HD and NOOK HD+; magazine, newspaper and interactive e-book publishers still see Apple's App Store as their first priority, will this now begin to change?

Rather than try and build out its own app store, NOOK Media LLC, a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, Inc., today announced that it would be teaming up with Google by adding Google Play to its NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ devices, instantly increasing the number of apps available to its tablet owners. In addition to the more than 700,000 Android apps and games, the change will bring with it music access, as well as Google services like Gmail, YouTube, Google Search, the Chrome browser and Google Maps.

"By adding Google Play to NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, we are offering our customers even more great entertainment on our award-winning tablets,” said William Lynch, chief executive officer of Barnes & Noble in the company's announcement. "Now with access to more than 700,000 apps and the best reading experience available, NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ are must-see products for entertainment lovers looking for high-quality tablets at incredibly low prices."

Google Play and the other Google services will be available to NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ owners in the US and UK through an automatic over-the-air update that will roll out to all devices connected to Wi-Fi beginning today.

For NOOK owners getting access to more Android apps via the Google Play store will be great, but getting Google's apps is even better. As Mike Schuster writes on Minyanville Google's apps generally beat Apple's, with most iPhone users turning to the apps from third party developers rather than using those developed by Apple.

Software has become a major issue with Apple. While the Cupertino company has developed some of the best apps for the iPhone and iPad – apps such as the iWork suite which have effectively locked out Microsoft – in other areas such as iTunes, maps, weather, Apple's offerings are insufficient, or down right disastrous.

With Jony Ive now in charge of software many are expecting major changes in the look and feel of Apple's software products, eliminating the company's use of skeuomorphic design.

But the problem with maps, iTunes, and other Apple offerings is not design, it is the quality of the programming. iTunes, in particular, is a world of hurt.

But Google has fallen behind Apple when it comes to promoting its Android system for reading on tablets. Most media apps seen in Google Play were designed specifically for mobile phones, not Android tablets. It is not at all unusual to find developers porting their iPhone apps to Android, but leaving the tablet editions developed for Apple's Newsstand strictly an iOS affair. As a result, the replica edition completely dominates Android, while interactive magazines, newspapers and e-books are considered the domaine of the iPad.

Google could change this instantly by developing an authoring tool for publishers, but to date their seems to be little interest in approaching this issue from the publisher angle. Today's announcement helps Google sell more media and games inside Google Play through NOOK owners, but it does little to change the perception that Android tablets are simply to be looked at as larger mobile devices.

Today's announcement does make it easier to access NOOK owners, though. Launching a tablet edition into Google Play now makes it available to NOOK owners so that developers of tablet editions can now say that building for Apple's Newsstand, and Google Play, will insure reaching a fairly large percentage of the market for tablet publications.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Årets Bild Magasin: another excellent example of a native tablet magazine that showcases photography

The one category of digital magazines that is exploding with good, natively designed tablet (or tablet-only) editions is photography. No other category seems to be as vibrant, with as much really good work being done. And why not, didn't Steve Jobs, in his product introduction event for the iPad emphasis how good photos look on the iPad? Yep, and they look even better on the newer retina display models, as well.

The problem was that the iPad isn't really a very good way to take photos, and how many of us import photos into the iPad? Probably not many. So the problems is getting them in there.

The first way is through e-books – whether a stand-alone e-book like that created by Joe Zeff Design for Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz – or as an interactive e-book, like those that use iBooks Author.

The second way, of course, is through digital photography magazines. No wonder, then, that so many new, digital-only tablet magazines are being launched into the Apple Newsstand. Future recently launched Photography Week, Focus Publishing launched Exposures (and other photographer-branded titles), and now this digital magazine built around the Swedish photojournalism awards Årets Bild Magasin.

It is easy to see why the photography category is perfect for the tablet. Yes, the photos look great, but there is also the fact that editors are not limited to using one of two photos in a print magazine spread. In a digital magazine one could use a slideshow, or simply add more digital pages.

Here, with Årets Bild Magasin, there are a limited number of photos since each one has received some recognition. But the art director can, by simply making a design choice, turn the digital magazine from one designed for portrait reading, into one the utilizes landscape. The funny thing is that an art director could do this with print and make the reader turn their magazine around, but it simply is rarely done in print – with tablets it is considered quite OK.

Årets Bild translates roughly as 'Pictures of the Year", and is the photojournalism awards organized by Pressfotografernas Klubb (Press Photographers Association).

Årets Bild Magasin is free of charge to download and the first issue inside is free, as well. The app description does not tell the reader when they might expect another issue – maybe it will be annually because I assume the awards are annual. But the first issue has an April 2013 dateline on it, at least signifying to me that we may see more frequent editions. Maybe someone who speaks Swedish, like our friends at Bonnier or Mag+ can tell us more.

RBI releases Newsstand tablet edition for its UK B2B title 'Airline Business'; B2B publishers need to prioritize digital publishing efforts by ROI, revenue potential

The U.K. division of RBI yesterday released a new tablet edition for its paid circulation B2B title Airline Business. The digital magazine appears under the developer account name of Eric Lambert, who happens to be the Production and Editorial Systems Director at RBI. Nowhere in the app description does the name of the publisher appear, so maybe Mr. Lambert is doing this on his own – at Reed it is a pretty good idea to make preparations for your next position.

The app appears to be a native tablet edition. I say "appears" because at $13.99 for a single issue there was no way I was going to spend the money to look at the actual digital edition. So what you see here is from the App Store screenshots. A 1-year subscription costs $159.99 (£109.99, €139.99). As expensive as this may seem, it is actually a small discount off the print subscription price.

This new app is the seventh to make it into the Apple App Store, the third to be placed inside the Newsstand. Another aviation title, Flight International, is there, as well – and a hairdressing title HJ Plus. The later looks to be a replica edition and was launched in 2011 and has not be updated since its release – while the aviation books seem to be now experimenting with the native tablet platform.

For B2B titles that charge a fortune to subscribe – books like these from RBI or AdAge/Adweek or ENR – the decision to launch a tablet edition should be an easy one. With no qualified audit to maintain, the main goal is paid subscriptions, just like their consumer magazine counterparts. In fact, B2B publishers producing paid circulation magazines have an even better incentive to launch a Newsstand edition as they rarely offer deep discounts to readers, while their consumer cousins often push discounted subscriptions in order to maintain their rate base.

But for publishers of qualified circulation titles, the costs associated with launching their titles into the Newsstand merely adds more costs to the bottom line.

I spoke to several B2B media companies this week about this very issue – when and how to launch first tablet editions – and it was interesting to hear their perspectives on the issue, as they sounded so different from their digital pure play counterparts.

In both cases, it looked like the job of creating the new digital publications had been placed into the hands of someone who would be responsible for finding a platform and implementing it. The goal seemed to be not so much creating a new profitable product as to get the job done as economically and easily as possible. Since both publishers were producing qualified circulation magazines, there was little opportunity to drive new revenue through paid subscriptions (though one of the publishers was, in fact, building in a paid subscription model for new readers).

The problem, as I saw it, was that neither publisher was really strategizing on what they should be offering readers and advertisers. As I told one publishing exec, it reminded me very much of the early days of the web where the only goal was to get something online as quickly as possible before someone else stole their URL.

For most B2B publishers, digital media remains more a cost than a profit center. Many B2B publishers find that their most profitable digital product is their paid e-newsletters, assuming they aren't giving these away. Websites are often home to press releases on new products rather than any real news, and attempts at maintaining blogs often gets abandoned after a few weeks.

One publisher was very much concerned with finding a system that would both produce a new Newsstand app and also produce their online digital flipbooks – I failed to ask the one question that should have been asked which was 'what do flipbooks at all' as most readers do not like them, according surveys, and the ad staffs rarely sell into them.

It may be because, unlike many of the my B2B publisher friends, I am comfortable with P&Ls that I am a strong advocate for creating separate P&Ls for all digital products. Most will end up showing a loss, which makes them vulnerable to cost cutting B2B executives who are representing their PE firm owners, but at least one can see the true financial condition of the digital product. Also, I've always found that a good publisher, when they see a big fat zero under Revenue will immediately begin working on creating new revenue sources to improve the situation.

I'm a huge believer in the tablet platform, but creating a new tablet edition out of fear of being late to the party is a bad reason to launch one. Because of this, I would think that any new tablet launch that did not include meetings where the publisher, the editor and the ad team were involved is a recipe for failure.

Morning Briefs: Fortune's Apple reporter doesn't understand the game; the NYT proves an easy target

Fortune's tech reporter, Philip Elmer-DeWitt, takes The New York Times to task this morning for what he describes as "slipping back into a lazy editorial stance that it rode last year all the way to a Pulitzer Prize." Clearly Mr. Elmer-Dewit is not happy with the way the NYT wins its awards.

The article in question, from today's paper, reports on the increasing thefts of cell phones, and while Apple does a better job of offering an anti-theft mechanism in its "Find My iPhone" app, Apple, nonetheless, is the center of the article's claim that the industry is not doing anything to stem the rising tide of thefts. But would you read an article centering on Nokia or HTC? No. If you want to grab the attention of the awards crowd you better talk about Apple, or so Elmer-Dewit seems to be saying.

But the Fortune writer doesn't seem to understand his own profession. Journalists are obsessed with awards, the red carpet, and recognition. Only the acting profession is as self-obsessed as modern journalism. The media trade press feeds this self-obsession with endless award dinners where editors pay money to be entered into contests judged other journalists. There is even a publishing Hall of Fame,  for crying out loud (are their busts of the journalists inducted?).

The New York Times just happens to be good at the game. Maybe someone needs to invite Fortune's columnist to a dinner, shine a light on him, hand him a certificate. Then maybe he'll understand what drives some reporters and editors.

Of course, the NYT needs to understand that sequels – the NYT rode Apple to a Pulitzer Prize for a story last year – rarely win. It's time to pick on another tech company. An expose on Apple is so last year's Twilight. The academy is more hip than that.

Fortune's Apple editor wasn't the only ones to take the NYT to task in the past 24 hours. Matt Tabbi went after Tom Friedman for writing a typically Friedman column, while the Boston Herald went after the NYT via the shareholder's meeting (seems a few shareholders are not happy with execs making big bucks while the NYT's stock price is hovering near rock bottom).

I suppose it is fair to say that the NYT remains the Apple of its industry despite its plummeting revenue and profits – it's an easy target.

But the NYT is also the shining star of the paid content crowd. It's paywall is held up as a model for the rest of the industry, despite the fact that paid digital circulation can not possibly compensate for the loss of advertising revenue. The dream of an ad-free future for journalism remains the fantasy future for writers who probably grew up hating their ad-side colleagues.

But the NYT is, I'm afraid, the Titantic of the newspaper industry. The 'digital first' folks are dressed in their finest buying one last drink for their 'paid content' friends – meanwhile, the string quartet is trying desperately to play loud enough to drown out the sounds of everyone else jumping off the rails to avoid going down with the ship.

Maybe there is still time for one last awards ceremony before it's all over.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Update for the Apptitude Media post on the just released 'British Journal of Photography+' digital magazine app

Earlier today TNM posted a story on the newly released iOS app for British Journal of Photography. Now the media company has released a press release on their new app and thought I'd reproduce it here.

The new app, which is now called British Journal of Photography+, now sits inside the App Store side-by-side with the older apps for iPad and iPad which were released with the magazine was being published by Incisive Media. But in February a new company was formed by the publishing team behind BJP, which then took over publishing the magazine along with Popular Science UK. That new publishing company just last week also launched a brand new title, Fade to Black (see TNM post here).
More than 18 months after British Journal of Photography first introduced its quarterly iPad edition, the award-winning magazine has today released a new universal iOS app designed to offer new and enhanced ways to discover BJP’s critically acclaimed content.

Marc Hartog, CEO of Apptitude Media, BJP’s publisher, states: “When we first launched our tablet version of British Journal of Photography, it was a shot in the dark. We had never made an app before, and no one had established any rules about the workflow or how to reach out to people.

Eighteen months later, there are more subscribers to our tablet edition than our print edition, and nearly a quarter of a million people around the world have downloaded our iPad app shell. We have had overwhelming feedback from our readers, who say they want a more frequent monthly version that retains the elegance and enhancements that are unique to the iPad - and we have listened.”

Hartog adds: “There are more iPhones sold every second of the day than babies born on the planet, so, whether media owners like it or not, tablets and smartphones are rapidly changing the way our audiences engage with our content and brands. This is a publishing revolution and media owners need to embrace it and try new ways of delivering properly designed content where and how their readers want it, or frankly they are doomed.”
A little over the top, I suppose. But there you have it.

Media app updates: 'This is CNN; does last long as users complain; Kindle app gets added accessibility features; Twitter's iOS app gets a Vine-related update

That was fast! Only three months after announcing that they had added the famous (they say iconic) voice of James Earl Jones saying "This is CNN" to this mobile app, today CNN announced that Jones has been cancelled.

CNN App for iPhone added the famous audio introduction on February 6 believing, one would guess, that users of the mobile news app would enjoy a bit of nostalgia – think "You've got mail."

But users apparently were not as thrilled as CNN had hoped. "I don't need Darth Vader to tell me I just opened the CNN app," wrote one reviewer.

CNN has relented, and today's app update turns off the greeting by default, though it's still there should users want to turn it back on.

Amazon has updated its Kindle reading app for iOS (officially called Kindle – Read Books, eBooks, Magazines, Newspapers & Textbooks).

The update adds accessibility features designed to it easier for blind and visually impaired customers to navigate their Kindle libraries, read and interact with their e-books. Amazon has also added enhancements to the ‘Before you go…’ feature including the ability to download a free sample and email a reminder about recommended books you've found.

Twitter updated its iOS app to add the ability to invite friends to join Twitter from within the app and claims to have improved the playback of Vine videos.

Some of Twitter's updates have been rather negatively received from users, though that situation seems to be improving – though a few new reviews do mention their app crashing following the update.

Ringling College of Art and Design launch digital edition of its biannual magazine CONTXT into the Apple Newsstand

Some of the very first tablet editions launched into the Apple App Store following the initial launch of the iPad were student designed digital publications. Some of these new apps were projects conducted as part of the students academic activities, while others were simply efforts to launch a digital version of an existing magazine or yearbook.

The team at Abilene Christian University launched a digital version of their college magazine, The Optimist, the very first week following the launch of the iPad.

One year later a digital version of Odd Magazine came out. The annual originates from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute and is/was produced as part of the Fashion Magazine Minor.

But after an initial rush of new tablet magazines from universities and high schools there has been a bit of a lull. That is why I was happy to see the a new Apple Newsstand app this morning from Ringling College of Art and Design from Florida.

CONTXT Magazine is a fully native tablet edition of the twice yearly publication. The initial issue inside the Newsstand app weighs in at 394 MB due to its design platform and the video contained inside.

CONTXT, the official magazine of Ringling College of Art and Design, focuses on students and alumni, campus culture, and the Ringling College community. Touted as the “Most Wired” campus in the US, we are pleased to once again be at the forefront of technology and deliver CONTXT to you in this free iPad edition—a format that is interactive, rich with content, and fresh.
As you would expect from a university magazine, both the app and its content are free of charge to access.

Here is a very brief walk-through video on the new digital edition:

Apptitude Media launches new universal iOS app for 'British Journal of Photography' as old app under the previous publisher's name gets replaced

Publishing start-up Apptitude Media this morning launched a new universal app for its title British Journal of Photography as the new publishing company dealt with the difficulties of moving apps around inside the Apple App Store.

Apple policies regarding app ownership are, well, complicated. So most media companies find that they are better off simply launching a new app rather than going through the process of trying to move one app from one company to the new one.

As a result, this morning there are now three apps for the BJP: two under the name of the previous publisher, Incisive Media (one for the iPhone, another for the iPad), and the new one named British Journal of Photography+ (as opposed to the older iPad app named British Journal of Photography).

The older iPad app states that the most recent issue available is Spring 2013, while the new universal app shows May 2013 as the latest issue available.

But that is not the most dramatic difference in the two apps: the old iPad app offered a 6-month subscription for $13.99, the new one is charging $42.99 for the combined iPhone/iPad edition. The new app is offering a one-month subscription for $8.99, not individual issues are not available for download. The old app was charging $9.99 for individual issues, with older issues discounted. There were also several special issues available inside the old apps's library that are currently not shown in the new app.

All this could change, of course, now that the new app has launched.

The BJP team that launched Apptitude Media has been using the Mag+ platform to build its apps – and the iPhone version of the magazine, BJPhoto: iPhone Edition (link to original TNM post), was the first mobile magazine app released using Mag+ platform for its design.

Morning Brief: Time Inc. reports earnings, publishing revenue falls 4.7%, division in the red; newspapers continue to bleed print circulation; USA Today falls from number two paper in U.S.; NY Post circulation dives

Before the bell this morning Time Inc. reported its Q1 earnings. Net operating income rose 7 percent to $1.4 billion on revenue that did not quite match the same quarter a year ago as the company lowered costs.

Publishing revenue fell 4.66 percent to $737 million from $773 million the year before as the division reported a net loss on the quarter of $9 million versus a net income of $39 million last year. Much of the loss was caused by costs driven by previously announced division layoffs.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes put a positive spin on the report highlighting the company's strong television performance before speaking of its publishing plans. "This quarter we also announced our plans to spin off Time Inc. into an independent publicly-traded company, which we expect to complete by the end of the year. As we said when we announced the spin-off in March, we believe this is the best structure for both Time Inc. and Time Warner, and expect this step will create additional value for our stockholders. Underscoring our commitment to stockholder returns, so far this year we've repurchased almost $870 million of our stock and paid out over $270 million in dividends."

The Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) released its latest report on newspaper circulations and the report showed that circulation performance is now largely driven by a publisher's digital circulation growth. While the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Chicago Sun-Times reported double digit circulation growth thanks to new digital subscribers, other papers continue to struggle to over come losses of print subscribers.

Gannett's USA Today saw its circulation fall 7.9 percent fall and fall from number two to number three largest paper in the U.S. as it could not keep up with gains by the NYT in digital subscribers. Both the New York Daily News and New York Post recorded large losses in readers, as well, falling 11 percent and 9.9 percent respectively.

The Washington Post also saw circulation losses, as the papers circulation fell 6.5 percent. The Post has the fewest digital subscribers of any of the top 10 papers with only 42,313 total digital circulation as reported by the AAM.

The AAM report reports total circulation comparisons but masks the details, comparing print readership directly betweetn reports. But pulling up last year's report one can see where the losses are coming from.

One year ago USA Today reported 1.7 million print readers, while this year's report shows 1.42 million; the WSJ reported a loss of print circulation from 1.566 million to 1.480 million.

Print circulation at the New York Post fell from 408,579 last year in March to 299,950 this year – by far the biggest percentage loss of the top 10 newspapers (nearly 27 percent).

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

B2B publisher PennWell launches its first Apple Newsstand app for its dental industry title 'Proofs'

The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based B2B publisher PennWell has launched its first tablet edition into the Apple Newsstand thanks to its vendor GTxcel. The new digital edition for Proofs can best be described as an enhanced replica edition, though the magazine has no longer has a print edition.

Proofs is kind of an odd title to launch a first Newsstand app with: the magazine does not have what I would term a fully functional website. As a result, the magazine will have a hard time promoting its new digital edition to readers. But the title does have an e-newsletter that the magazine's editor Keven Henry told me reaches 11,000 readers. The magazine will now be using that e-newsletter and email to alert readers that they can download a digital copy of Proofs, or access issues through this new app.

Proofs is part of PennWell's Dental Division and is distributed to dental dealers and executives at dental manufacturing firms. It is, in short, the kind of title that rounds out a B2B publisher's industry focus. .

The new app was built by GTxcel, which was formerly known as Godengo+Texterity. Texterity, back when it was an independent company, built a lot of flipbooks for magazine publishers, and PennWell will be using Texterity, that is GTxcel, to build the new version of Proofs.

The app for Proofs is universal, but even the editor's note refers to this new app as being for tablets. The publishing team has tried hard to make their new replica edition more like a native tablet edition by embedding some video and having a slideshow added. Because of the magazine's font choices I found the digital edition fairly easy to read.

PennWell's production team is clearly struggling with digital publishing as there are tell-tale signs of print everywhere: first, the page numbers are inserted on editorial pages with their left-page even, right-page odd rhythm; second, there is a story that jumps to the back of the book, and no link was placed on the jump to assist the reader in continuing to read the story. Hopefully PennWell's management team and editors will sit down with art directors to talk over what the digital publishing platform should look like (hey, alternatively, I'll come over for a few meetings!).

Pennwell has three other iPad apps inside the Apple App Store, each an older stand-alone app. This may be the first real attempt by the B2B publisher to launch a digital magazine. PennWell, though, has many more mobile apps for its titles inside both the Apple App Store and Google Play – and most look to have also been built by Texterity GTxcel.

One thing that I should point out with the new app for Proofs is that the publisher is charging new readers for access to the digital magazine – $1.99 per issue, or an annual subscription for $19.99. Current subscribers can log into their accounts, however, to access the issue for free.

Many B2B publishers, used to giving away their print magazine to qualified subscribers often decide to launch their first tablet editions with the app and its issues free to download. Only those B2B titles that charge for print seem to be also charging for digital.

But there is no reason not to go in this direction PennWell has taken in Proofs of charging new readers who have not gone through the qualification process. A decade or more ago, it was regular practice for B2B publishers to try and sell issues to non-qualified or foreign readers.

What I would love to see, however, is B2B publishers working with Apple (or Google, Microsoft or Amazon, for that matter) to come up with an in-app qualification mechanism. I have seen one European B2B tablet edition take this approach, but no U.S. B2B titles. (Maybe it isn't even necessary to work with the platform owners to do this?)

Here is a walk-through of part of the first issue of Proofs inside its new Newsstand app:

B Culture Media launches quarterly digital-only magazine for its fashion website SHK – Seen Heard Known

A little over a decade ago the best reason to launch a website if you were a print publisher was to support your print publication. Early magazine websites were often just about promoting the print title. This made them easy to maintain since the basic information on the magazine was static. Eventually most magazine decided that they needed a more dynamic approach and began posting their content online, then building blogs, posting news, etc.

Today things have flipped a bit: the best reason to launch a magazine – a digital magazine – may be to support a website. The Next Web, for instance, launched a tablet magazine into the Apple Newsstand called TNW Magazine that both supports the online property and expands on it.

The reasons to launch a digital magazine can involve more than mere supporting another property, or even simply creating a brand extension. A tablet magazine can be used to tell the background stories of what appears online, to house long-form content, or to create content that contains more animation or other multimedia elements that are built right into the stories rather than merely being supplements to the online story.

The website SHK – – last week launched a digital-only magazine called SHK Magazine into the Apple Newsstand (the website seems to imply that the title will also be available for other platforms, as well). I was too busy to post about the new digital publication but an update released today made me return to it.

SHK Magazine was built using the Mag+ platform, and though the app is universal, the publisher – B Culture Media – did not reformat the new magazine specifically for the iPhone. As one can see by the screenshot above, the design does not not fill up the full screen of the iPhone 5 but rather one might call the iPhone version a digital replica of the tablet magazine. (Typically publishers that format for the iPhone choose portrait orientation for the mobile edition – see BJPhoto: iPhone Edition which also used the Mag+ platform, but launched a separate iPhone app to do it.)(

The new app contains one issue, the Spring 2013 edition (a flipbook of the Winter 2012 can be found still online).

On the iPad (retina) the issue downloaded weighs in at 403 MB, while on the iPhone the issue is 189 MB (the apps say they are slightly smaller than this, but this is what the device's Settings > Usage says the document is sized at).

The digital magazine is meant to be read in landscape, which saves a bit of files space. Using landscape-only makes a lot of sense for digital magazines about film and photography, and sometimes cooking. Fashion magazines have tough choices because models tend to be tall and thin and so the photos tend to lend themselves to portrait. I, personally, like landscape as the orientation of choice, but many people are now buying smaller tablets like the iPad mini or Kindle Fire so this will become a bigger and bigger issue over time.

The digital magazine is free of charge to access, and so publishers looking for inspiration for their own digital magazine projects should check out SHK Magazine. If you're too lazy, the short walk-through video below will give you a taste of what this new digital-only magazine looks like:

Morning Brief: BlackBerry CEO sees no future in tablets; Barry Diller says he wasn't thinking; getting your Twitter feed hack becomes new badge of honor

"In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” Thorsten Heins, CEO of BlackBerry told Bloomberg in an interview yesterday. "Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model."

BlackBerry's experience with tablets has not been a good one, but the fault lies not in market trends but in the company's bizarre idea of what users wanted in a tablet ≠ launching their own PlayBook without email capability.

The Bloomberg interview is bound to be controversial. Tablets are rapidly replacing laptops as the primary computing device for those mostly interested in browsing and apps. But BlackBerry's CEO can always claim that his main point is that mobile devices are merging with tablets to create a new type of device, though most observers would simply call those devices small tablets.

In another interview getting attention this morning, Barry Diller was asked by Forbes "What were you thinking when you bought Newsweek?"

His answer: "I wasn’t thinking."

"Ok, I was thinking but it was stupid... We did not look deeply at risks of display advertising."

It is quickly becoming a badge of honor to get your Twitter feed hacked. Yesterday it was The Guardian that got hacked (and before that the AP). "We are aware that a number of Guardian Twitter accounts have been compromised and we are working actively to resolve this," said in a statement.

The Syrian Electronic Army, a group that supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is being blamed for the hack.

I got a late start today, but it wasn't because I was up late watching the 19 inning game between the A's and Angels (the A's won with a walk-off home run). But instead I woke up to find my Mac completely dead. Turns out that pulling off the peripherals was all that was necessary, but it was touch and go there for a while.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Google adds Google Now features to iOS app

Google today issued a major update to its iOS app Google Search. The update brings the app up to version 3.0 and adds in Google Now features.

Get just the right information at just the right time with Google Now.
  • weather and traffic conditions before you start your day
  • updates on your favorite sports teams and breaking news stories as they happen
Find out more about all other ways Google Now can help at
Early reviews are generally positive with two caveats: some users are reporting that the app crashes on their older iPhones, while others are concerned the app, because of its geo-location usage, will eat into battery life.

Tech sites are writing about the fact that the app may now compete with Apple's Siri due to its ability to provide basic information.

"Google Now is about giving you just the right information at just the right time. It can show you the day’s weather as you get dressed in the morning, or alert you that there’s heavy traffic between you and your butterfly-inducing date—so you’d better leave now! It can also share news updates on a story you’ve been following, remind you to leave for the airport so you can make your flight and much more," Google said on its official blog.

Here is the new promotional video for the update:

New iPad app brings Australia's photography magazine 'Capture' to the Apple Newsstand in a replica edition; contrast with other new photography tablet editions reveals shortcomings of publisher's approach

There has been a flood of new tablet editions of photography magazines released lately – whether print publishers are starting to feel some pressure to get their magazines into the Apple Newsstand is hard to say, but for readers who enjoy these magazines there are now lots to choose from.

Yaffa Publishing Group late last week released a new iPad edition for Capture, one of its two photography titles.

There are, of course, lots of ways a publisher can bring a photography title to the Newsstand: the most common way is in the form of a replica edition, a PDF driven exact copy of the print title; the publisher could convert their print magazine to a native tablet edition using a digital publishing platform, transforming the magazine into a completely native digital magazine, or a hybrid where the print ads are left for the most part untouched; or the publisher could build a digital-only magazine from scratch, such as Future's Photography Week, or Focus Publishing's new tablet magazine Exposures.
Capture, the app, is like its other magazine titles inside the Apple Newsstand in that it is a replica edition.

Bring your reading glasses
The problem for publishers of photography magazines is that the replica approach stands out even more than usual from the native approach. In print, the art director only has so many pages to work with so often chooses to present several images per page – it is the only way to give the reader a good idea of the photographer's work. But in a tablet edition the art director can take many different approaches including building in slideshows, or putting small photos on the page, but allowing each to link to a full screen version.

But some publishers are wedded to the replica form even when the approach makes no sense. Yaffa Publishing Group appears to be one of those media companies because their other photography magazine, Australian Photography + digital. At some point publishers will realize that producing a print magazine about something that is digital may not be very bright, but it's especially odd when we are talking about digital photography.

But readers will ultimately decide the approach they like best, so making a comparison of the approaches is wise. So, in case you missed the new digital magazine post on Exposures, here is the walk-through video for that tablet magazine:

Nextstar Broadcasting launches new mobile news apps using Inergize Digital's NewsSynergy app solution

Nexstar Broadcasting Group is an Irving, Texas-based television broadcaster that owns 50 television stations across the U.S. Starting at the end of last year the media company has begun releasing a series of mobile apps for its properties.

A number of new apps were released today including Big Country To Go, which is powered by KTAB-TV, KRBC-TV, and, and KOLR10 KOZL for stations reaching Missouri and Arkansas markets.

Each of the new apps is universal, though the tablet version is really just a mobile app scaled and slightly altered for the iPad. Each of the apps is free, as is the content – a typical practice of broadcasters.

The apps use the NewsSynergy solution from Inergize Digital. The app designs are fairly unimaginative and more than a bit dated – something one would have expected to see released in 2009 or 2010. But the apps work fine on the iPhone and are support the iPhone 5's display, though I noticed that the splash page for Big Country To Go was mis-sized.

The apps feature banner ads along the bottom of the screen for local businesses, so it looks like the broadcaster will be taking responsibility for their own ad sales. Many app vendors discount, or even give away their news apps in order to build their own ad networks, then so some sort of revenue share with the media company.

It is probably the case that the vendor was in charge of shepherding these apps into the Apple App Store as some of the app description text is badly written, with place names in lower case and very little actual description of what the consumer will find inside these apps. It's possible that the app releases caught Inergize by surprise this morning and now they will go into the store and update the text for the app descriptions (though looking at the apps released in December one sees that the app descriptions are still short and incomplete, a reminder that media companies need to take ownership of their apps, not relying on third party vendors to do an adequate jobs of representing their interests).

Morning Brief: HuffPost Live lands on cable TV; the Koch Brothers-Trib bid story proves to have legs; claims its mobile web efforts are producing results

Mark Cuban's cable channel AXS TV has signed up The Huffington Post's own HuffPost Live to provide six hours of content each day, according to the NYT. The move is being made as efforts to get cable providers to add HuffPost Live to their channel offerings has failed to achieve results.

Cuban's AXS TV, previously called HDNet, now shows mostly repeat programming. HuffPost Live programming with features live commenting and eventually an app which will attempt to drive viewership.

According to the NYT neither party is paying the other in the deal as AXS TV needs original programming, and The HuffPost needs a TV audience. “It’s an opportunity for both of us to grow our audiences during the day,” Roy Sekoff, the president of HuffPost Live said.

The Koch Brothers-Tribune story now has a life of its own.

It started with a blog report in the L.A. Weekly asking whether the Koch Brothers were about to bid on the Tribune Company newspapers, which include the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune. The move would not be totally unexpected – with newspapers becoming less profitable, the motivation to own a paper turns from one of direct financial gain to one of indirect financial gain through political influence.

But the L.A. Weekly story was simply speculating and trying to connect some dots. What has followed is another example of the herd mentality of the press, this time exemplified by the media reporting community. Despite the fact that bids are not due yet, and despite the fact that the Koch Brothers have been tight lipped about their plans, media reporters have been repeating the story as fact, and even writing commentaries on an event that has not happened.

Today USA Today gets into the act.

No doubt if the bids for the Tribune Company are revealed and the name of the Koch Brothers is not included among the bidders the story will be that they were dissuaded by the publicity. Well, I have a scoop for you, too – Donald Duck will be bidding on the Tribune Company newspapers, unless dissuaded by a leaked report of his interest.

The Guardian this morning features an interview with managing director Rob Grimshaw in which Grimshaw gives readers a status report on the financial newspaper's mobile media efforts.

According to Grimshaw, 12% of the FT's digital advertising revenues are currently coming from mobile devices, and 34% of total web traffic is coming from mobile devices. "The investment and time we have put into mobile is really paying off. The audience is clearly moving to mobile, and we need to be where the audience is. 15-20% of new subscriptions each week are being sold on a mobile device," says Grimshaw.

The problem I have with the claims is that they may be taking interesting information and coming to the wrong conclusion. Rathe than the growth of mobile as a share of readership reflecting anything the paper is doing maybe it is true that the reason mobile traffic is growing is simply that more and more readers are using their mobile devices to access the web. TNM's mobile traffic has also grown tremendously over the past two years and yet I've really not done much to make that happen – it is happening simply because readers are changing their behavior, not because I have done anything to promote mobile traffic (or, at least, very little).