Friday, May 24, 2013

The Guardian looks to cash in on its global audience by moving all sites to one online address, theguardian.com

The Guardian today announced that it would be consolidating all its global web properties onto one URL, theguardian.com, as it looks to capitalize on its growing web traffic.

"This may be a small URL change but it marks a big step for the Guardian and reflects our evolution from a much-respected national print newspaper based only in the UK – reaching hundreds of thousands of people once a day – to a leading global news and media brand, with offices around the world, and an ever-growing worldwide audience accessing Guardian journalism every minute of every day," wrote Tanya Cordrey, Guardian News & Media's chief digital officer.

The Guardian is working with Yoast.com on its websites, a Dutch firm specializing in SEO, site optimization and WordPress plug-ins.

The reality of the move is that readers will probably not see any real difference as the current sites allow for moving between national editions. But the paper will now be able to present a consolidated traffic report to advertisers that promises to be more impressive than attempting to present multiple URL reports and argue that it is, in fact, one web property.

Morning Brief: TuneIn Radio issues major update to bring TuneIn Live to the iPhone; Amazon launches new fan fiction publishing platform, Kindle Worlds

A new update for TuneIn Radio brings TuneIn Live to to the iPhone, plus a slew of other features and fixes. Unfortunately, if early reviews are to believed, the update has also introduced some bugs that will have to be addressed in another update.

TuneIn Live basically brings Pandora-like features to live radio programs like artwork that flips as the program changes. There are also calendar reminders for live events, though the app description talks about changes to the system due to App Store changes.

The update also brings access to the app directly to BMW and MINI drivers for owners of vehicles with the BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected features (new vehicles, obviously).

TuneIn Radio still comes in two flavors: a free universal app and a "Pro" version which allows users to record programming.



Amazon launched Kindle Worlds yesterday, a way for users to publish their own fanzines (actually novels, novellas, and short stories) without having to secure their own licensing agreements.

"With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group's Alloy Entertainment for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with licenses for more Worlds on the way," the Amazon site announced.

One can imagine the quality of work that will result – but, hey, kids will be kids. Also, don't be surprised to start hearing stories of someone who has written a work of fan fiction and has sold millions.

Amazon says they will price these fan generated works for $0.99 to $3.99, and Amazon will retain all the rights to the work "including global publication rights, for the term of copyright."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Aquafadas updates AVE AppFactory templates to make them iPad retina and iPhone 5 compliant

The Kobo-owned digital publishing platform Aquafadas today announced that they now have updated templates for their app making program AVE AppFactory that are all iPad retina display and iPhone 5 compliant. The program is now on version 1.9.1 and is a free download.

Aquafadas is a plug-in solution for InDesign which creates the digital issues, while AVE AppFactory is the program that actually creates the Newsstand app. Aquafadas also has its own animation software called MotionComposer, unlike the other programs, costs $149, though one can download a demo version which allows you to try out the software, create as many animations as you would like, but without publishing them.

Sadly, Aquafadas is not quoting prices for its solutions on its website, forcing potential publishing to contact them via a form on the site.

goRogue, a new digital-only community magazine for Grande Prairie, Alberta, shows off the Mag+ platform

Sometimes one gets a little tired of constantly having to point out what seems so obvious to me, that there are many, many new magazine start-ups being launched that are producing exceptional work. These new start-ups are producing tablet editions, of course, but they rarely get any attention from the established media trade press (in one case, an editor told me he doesn't even own an iPad, his publisher hadn't approved the purchase).

Even the digital publishing vendors supporting these new start-ups have a hard time keeping up. I received a notice of what looks like a great new app from IDG UK the other day and had to pass it off to a guest writer (who will be writing up a post next week) while noticing that another digital magazine had launched that very day using the same platform.

goRogue is the work of Ellen MacCormac, a photographer and graphic designer who is now publishing under the business name of EXPOSURE photo design publishing in Grand Prairie, Alberta. The new digital magazine is, in fact, all about its community, a city of about 55,000 tucked into the northwest corner of the Canadian province, north of Edmonton.

I've been to Edmonton, and like many dumb Americans, couldn't possibly imagine anyone actually living north of that hockey town. Thanks to MacCormac I now know better, and promise to keep an open mind about these things in the future.

Let's celebrate new thinking, fresh ideas. Like any community project, collaboration is needed to complete our story. Interviews, opinions, hobbies of individuals - written by the public, like YOU, or covered as a feature by me - these are the things that collectively create our culture, and this is how I aim to cultivate it over time. I see culture as made up of the senses, and aim to capture Grande Prairie's essence through this interactive medium. – app description
MacCormac uses the Mag+ platform to build her digital magazine and for those thinking about the platform I found goRogue quite instructional.

Despite building layouts for both portrait and landscape (landscape is seen in the video walk-through) the file size is a modest 182 MB. I would bet that the same magazine built using the Adobe DPS would have been twice the size (but I'm only guessing).

goRogue uses all the floating text boxes you can imagine, probably too many of them. But for other publishers or art directors looking to use Mag+ one can see great examples right here in one digital magazine.

The new digital magazine is to be produced quarterly, and a subscription will be only $0.99, with single issues priced at the same level. MacCormac told me that the app was supposed to be priced at $0.99, as well, but is appearing as free for now. Pricing the app at the cost of the first issue makes sense in order to discourage downloads of the app that won't lead to a sale of the magazine – after all, many vendors charge for app downloads – but then the first issue inside the app needs to be free, too, though this often leads to a loss of subscriptions. Decisions, decisions.

Newspaper app updates: Washington Post updates iPad app, enabling 'cut and paste', but no paywall just yet; The Guardian updates its iPhone app to add swipe navigation

Media observers are anticipating the launch of The Washington Post's paywall strategy some time this summer. Meanwhile, the paper continues tweak its iPad app. In March, version 2.0 was released that introduced a new design and moved the app into the Apple Newsstand. Since then four more updates have been released.

The latest updates adds “copy and paste” and “define” functions in articles, makes the crossword puzzle printable for those still using the original iPad, adds more blurb text to section fronts, and fixes a few bugs.

The WaPo's iPhone app reached version 2.0 last August and has not had an update since the beginning of the year.

The Guardian for iPhone was updated today to add new navigation. Readers can now swipe the app to reach the next article rather than only using the arrow. There is a minor change to the layouts to improve headlining, and changes to commenting, as well as the usual bug fixes.

The iPhone app remains a stand-alone app, and separate from the iPad app. I think this is most definitely the way to go for newspapers, rather than creating a universal app. Newspaper iPhone apps are driven by RSS feeds that list the stories in a top-down fashion and are instantly updated. The mobile app is, therefore, an extension of the website. Tablet apps for newspapers are also generally extensions of the website, as well, but they don't have to be. In fact, I'd argue, this is a big mistake and why so many newspaper tablet editions are failures. If a tablet reader wants access to the website they can do so easily through the browser. Instead, a better strategy would be to create a new news publication for the Newsstand, either by using a replica of the print paper the way the WaPo or Boston Globe does it, or coming up with something new.

But the advantages of being inside the Newsstand are obvious for newspapers. Take a look at the app icon for The Guardian and Observer iPad edition this morning (right). The icon has been instantly updated to reflect that days news – in this case, the huge story of the killing in London yesterday. The paper has not swapped out its screenshots in seemingly forever, but at least the icon is there to help promote the paper. Newsstand allows for automatic updating of the icon in order to accomplish this, where as a stand-alone app forces the developer to make the change manually.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's official, skeuomorphic design is out: retailer Target redesigns its catalog app ahead of iOS 7 update

Target today issued a major update to its Target for iPad app which brings its advertising circulars directly to its retail customers (without the need for newspapers, I might add).

Version 2.0 is brings a new navigation panel, redesigned home screen and the like. It also throws out its skeuomorphic design for something cleaner and more in tune with the prevailing design trends. Whether you will like the new look will all depend on whether you still love Apple's iCalendar look, or have moved on to the more austere look of what many expect Apple's iOS 7 will look like once unveiled (and probably previewed soon at WWDC).

Leaving aside design issues, though, Targets iPad app remain mostly about bringing the weekly circular directly to customers. In essence, the digital version is a replica edition of what one would expect to see inside the Sunday newspaper – only smaller, and harder to read.

The problem Target faces, of course, is that there is enough variation in regional Target store circulars that one can not easily create a more native tablet version of the circular without a lot of production work. The digital circular is basically a digital flipbook, but without even pinch-to-zoom. But all products have built in links that do pull up a much better looking page with the product on it. In this way, the digital circular is very much like the NewspaperDirect apps where the reproduction of the print page can be used simply as a mechanism that links the reader to the story that has been reformatted for the tablet or smartphone.

Left: the older version of the Target for iPad app; Right: the version 2.0 app


Newspapers are, of course, scared to death that they are about to lose one of the last remaining sources of solid ad revenue, their circulars. But their strategy seems to be to repeat the mistake made with classifieds: outsource the solution to a third party vendor that will, hopefully, trickle down some revenue to them through their investments. This strategy has led to the companies like Classified Ventures existing and preventing their newspaper partners from experimenting on their own with the category.

In others words, as usual newspaper executives are proving to be their own worst enemies.

I actually see these new ventures as creating more competition for newspapers, not less. Agencies will be encouraged to pull their ads from newspapers to be placed in national networks that will net far less for their newspaper partners.

But the real problem with these new ventures is that eventually become as stale and uncreative as the newspapers that created them. Careerbuilder, Cars.com and the other "pure plays" created to save classifieds have been slow to adapt to mobile and tablets. Let's face it, not only don't newspapers get digital, they also don't get the way Silicon Valley works, with its constant innovation, turnover, confusion, excitement, and uncertainty. Newspaper execs like to wake up in the morning and think nothing has changed since they went to bed, digital folk assume something major has occurred.

New study by Mequoda Group predicts rise in preference for digital magazine over print

I am generally skeptical about studies that attempt to predict the future of customer preferences. After all, how many of us would have said in 2006, for instance, that just two years later we would be getting out weather news from an app, or that a few years later we'd be reading much of our news through short sentences found on something called Twitter.

Nonetheless, Mequoda Group has today released the results of a study that they claim shows that 23 percent of current tablet owners already prefer reading magazines on their tablets, and then goes on to predict that a majority of readers will feel this was by 2020.

“The rapid consumer adoption of tablets, and an early preference for digital magazines over print magazines by their users, leads us to conclude that a long-range digital publishing strategy is imperative to the survival and prosperity of every magazine publisher," said Mequoda's CEO Don Nicholas.

You can read the study yourself by downloading it here.

Like most studies about tablets, the Mequoda Group study makes the mistake of throwing all tablets into the same boat. For instance, the study shows that 51 percent of tablet users prefer streaming video, as opposed to 39 percent who read books, 26 percent who read magazines. But one would guess that the type of tablet one owns will significantly influence media preferences (or many it won't). It is generally agreed, for instance, that iPad owners are more disposed to buying media – does this mean that iPad owners are more likely to read digital magazines on their tablets than the owners of another brand? Maybe, but I'd like to see this level of detail.

The study, though, does give publisher important reinforcement concerning the demographics of tablet owners, showing them generally more upscale. Again, though, the study lumps all tab owners together in ways that makes the data meaningless. For instance, the study shows a pretty much even split between men and women – which may be the case – but it is also possible that when one looks at the kinds of tablets owned by each group that patterns might arise. For instance, do women prefer smaller tablets, do they prefer Kindles? This might tell a magazine publisher that it is important to optimize their digital edition for smaller tablets, launch inside Amazon right away rather than simply launch for the Apple Newsstand.

Of course, Mequoda Group has a vested interest in all this so their conclusions must be taken with a grain of salt.

"All in all, no publisher should wait one single day more to launch a digital magazine. No matter how tiny your operation, there appears to be no downside for digital magazines and apps, and at the same time, there are clearly massive new revenue streams to be had," the study concludes.

The stand-alone magazine app is not dead quite yet as a small number of publishers continue to launch their apps outside the Apple Newsstand

For most magazine publishers the Apple Newsstand seems like the logical place to launch their tablet editions, and often is the first choice, with other digital newsstand like Google Play and Amazon (and others) considered secondary choices. But for a number of reasons, some magazine publishers are still choosing to launch their digital magazines as stand-alone apps inside the App Store. Cost, especially if they are using Adobe, is one reason. Marketing can be another.

Greek publisher Lambrakis Press S.A. continues to publish stand-alone apps for its Greek edition of Marie Claire. ΜΟΥΣΑ #3, as its name implies, is the third such stand-alone app, with the publishing cycle appearing to be somewhat quarterly.

The app is a fantastic digital edition, with issues quite large due to their animation and video. The downloads are excruciatingly slow, but since it is a stand-alone app the wait is all on the front end.

One gets a sense that this tablet edition remains an experiment as the issues continue to be free and there is no set publication schedule. With the Greek economy in shambles, it is probably a bit of a minor miracle that a digital edition this good is being produced at all.

Here is a brief look at the latest installment:





It is a bit hard to figure out what Turnstile Media Group is trying to do with its title Golfweek. It's newest app, Golf Week Mag is a replica edition and a stand-alone app, a combination that is really quite rare.

The reason it is so rare is that if a replica edition is the goal there are an enormous number of vendors that will put your magazine title into the Newsstand at next to no cost. Some charge small fees, others are charging download fees, while still others are completely free but want a share of the revenue.

Golf Week's new app is functional, bug free, but utterly unreadable as all replica editions are. I suppose it is possible that this app could be made into a native tablet edition, and eventually moved into the Newsstand (as other publishers have done). But in the meantime this new app seems to me like a waste of time.

It is totally understandable that launching a native tablet edition for a weekly might be a burden and impractical at this time – and because of this a replica edition may be the solution of choice. But forcing readers to remember to download their issues each week really seems a terrible idea.

Turnstile Media Group seems to still be experimenting with the whole concept of digital editions. It still has a stand-alone app inside the App Store Golfweek for iPad which was originally launched back in March of 2011 – a million years ago in terms of the tablet publishing platform. But even in 2011 readers found it rather crude. "Expected much better. Very elementary design. Maybe it will get better but simply bad right now," wrote an early review.

Unfortunately, while the app has been regularly updated, it hasn't proven to be very popular. So the launching a new edition makes sense, but the publisher now finds themselves still with a rather outdated looking app that is not even capable of selling digital subscriptions.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

ABM’s year-end report shows B2B media grew revenue overall, though print ad pages continue depressed

The year 2012 was hoped to be one of recovery for the B2B media business in the U.S., and while total industry revenue did manage some growth, print ad pages continues their decline.

Source: ABM BIN Report
Ad pages fell 6.94 percent for 2012, according to the ABM's year-end report, though December saw declines moderate somewhat, with ad pages down 6.69 percent versus the same month in 2011.

The results, though, have to be disappointing. 2011 eked out a microscopic increase in ad pages following a number of years with declines. B2B publishers have, as a result, been trimming back their magazine portfolios in response.

Overall, B2B media grew 4.3 percent for the year, led by strong trade show growth – by far the biggest revenue generator in the industry. Both data/business information services and digital advertising also grew, with digital ad revenue accounting for 16 percent of all B2B media revenue, according to the ABM (up from just over 12 percent in 2010).

The report for overall revenue in B2B is compiled by the ABM from its own BIN report for magazine advertising, the CEIR, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research report for trade shows, Outsell's report for data and business information, and ABM estimates based on the Interactive Advertising Bureau Ad Revenue Report.

Side note: the association continues to maintain its own website along side its new site at thenewabm.com following the association's merger with the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

Another side note: I've always been skeptical about revenue reports from third parties. Ad pages can be counted pretty cleanly, though things like make-goods and other giveaways end up in the final reports. But revenue reports assume a media property is getting its rate card rates. So it is best to look at both the ad page and revenue reports, compare them and come to your own conclusions based on your own experience.

Distributor brings its B2B magazine 'Chilled' to the iPad in a hybrid digital magazine for the Apple Newsstand

Downloading the first digital edition of Chilled for the iPad one anticipates that the digital edition will be a native tablet edition as the file is over 150 MB in size. But opening the first inside the new Apple Newsstand app one immediately sees a two-page ad spread over two tablet pages, typical of a replica edition.

What the reader gets, though, is a hybrid edition: a digital magazine where the print ads are reproduced exactly as in the print magazine, mostly without any enhancements, and the editorial is reformatted for reading on the tablet.

The digital publishing platform used here appears to be Mag+ based on its navigation and overall look. The initial disappointment is seeing the ads unchanged quickly disappears as the reader moves on to the editorial. Like many first digital issues, it is hard to get advertisers and their agencies to being swapping out creative for the digital edition, and many publishers are leery of crossing circulation audit rules.

But I doubt the publisher of Chilled is too concerned with circulation rules in the same way a consumer magazine normally would be. Chilled is a trade publication, with a vast majority of its readership being bartenders (the rest being consumer), according to the magazine's publisher Jeff Greif. This explains why the magazine is free to download within the Newsstand app.

Left and Middle: a 2-page ad spread over two iPad pages shows that this is a hybrid edition, where the ads are unchanged from print; Right: an article with sliding photos shows that the editorial pages have been reformatted for the tablet edition


The magazine is published by Chilled Media LLC which is an offshoot of Chilled Distributors LLC – in other words, the beverage magazine is tied to the beverage distribution business. (The app appears under the developer account name of Anthony Graziano, president of both companies, and listed as managing editor of the magazine.)

The tie to the distribution business is a bit like those grocery store publications that contain ads from the food brands – in other words, its good to be on both sides of the business. This is something that we will see more and more of, and while some might call this content marketing, it is a little more complicated than that when we actually see it in print (or digital, as the case may be).

The magazine has had digital editions in the past as the title can be found inside the Zinio digital newsstand. RCS Publisher Services is credited with distribution services in the magazine and they may have had a hand in the digital edition.

The app may just be part of the publisher's overall digital distribution strategy, by creating a hybrid edition they have published a well-designed, easy to read digital edition, making many right choices.

Update: Chilled has been updated to add new interactive pages.

Wanderful Media raises $9 million more in funding from its newspaper investment partners

Just four months ago Wanderful Media, the Los Gatos digital local discovery shopping company, announced that it had added $5 million in new funding. Today, the company acquired iCircular in November, announced that it had raised an additional $9 million. The new round of funding brings its total up to $36 million.

The company which hopes to find a way to save the circulars business for newspapers is backed by 12 major newspaper companies: Advance, Belo, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., Cox Media Group, The E. W. Scripps Company, Gannett, GateHouse, Hearst Corporation, Lee Enterprises, MediaNews Group, McClatchy, and The Washington Post Co.

Wanderful Media's CEO is Ben. T. Smith, IV, a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur, who was the founder of MerchantCircle (the COO comes from that start-up, as well).

Whether this is just more money circling the drain is to be seen, but the investments by major newspaper companies does follow a pattern whereby newspaper execs outsource their digital media solutions rather than build them in-house. In the print world, newspapers generally eschew any solutions that need outside vendors to succeed. They may not build their own printing presses but they spend millions making sure they are housed, maintained and operated by their own personnel.

In digital, however, newspaper companies have invested in outside firms in attempts to drive classified advertising – with the result, of course, that the category has almost completely disappeared. Worse, the financial commitments made have tied the hands of newspaper executives that would normally have been more aggressive in finding their own digital advertising solutions.

For many newspaper companies, the circular is one of the last profitable advertising segments they possess, the reason many still subscribe to the Sunday newspaper. Last November iCircular, the company many hoped would save the category, and an A.P. initiative, was acquired by Wanderful Media for "less than eight figures" (though that would still represent a large portion of Wanderful Media's own funding). Wanderful had previously bought a print to digital conversion company located in Chico, where it still maintains its development and operations office.

Wanderful's own product is called Find & Save, which for now is a web-based solution found on such newspaper websites as the San Francisco Chronicle. The company says its next move is to bring the solution to mobile and tablet devices where geolocation and push notification services can be employed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

a+ magazine: a free Newsstand magazine launches with some lofty goals; developed, released by f2f 6Sixty Digital

Looking for the first time at a new tablet-only magazine the first thing I want to see is what platform was used to create the digital magazine. Then i want to know in what orientation the magazine is to be read, and finally the file size. Then I can actually start enjoying the magazine itself.

a+ magazine presents some surprises. It's file size of 111 MB is so modest one would assume only one orientation is supported (not true) or that there would not be much interactivity (also not true).

The magazine was founded and is edited by Smokey D. Fontaine, which the app itself was built by f2f 6Sixty Digital.

The new publication is free of charge to download and subscribe to thanks to Toyota. The app opens up to the words "powered by Avalon" and the first issue itself is packed with ads for the Avalon. Launching with a single sponsor is a great way to go, something that I would think B2B publishers might want to try. Usually single sponsors are the way to go when trying to build up paid circulation to the point where ads can be sold, but by going with a free circulation model the publisher probably can hit that point much quicker
The new digital magazine's mission statement makes pretty interesting reading:

At no other point in history has digital culture been so clearly visible.

At no other point have clicks, touches & swipes so clearly defined what we like, love and feel about the world around us.

The rise of digital has brought with it an opportunity to express ourselves in ways never thought possible, to create and dream and match our imaginations with boundless possibility.

But there is a price to be paid...

The digital moment has also brought with it a transience, a nagging feeling of emptiness built into the pixels that flash across our irresistible screens.

So where is the experiencer that gives us something to truly remember? Where is the platform that dazzles us with the beauty of our creativity?

The answer is here...
There is more but you can go ahead and read the rest in the free digital magazine. A variation of the mission statement can be found in the app description, as well.

The new app has been sitting in my iPad for a couple of weeks. Since then an update has been issued to fix bugs. The app is universal, which I'm not sure was a good idea being that the design does not support the iPhone 5. Launching a digital magazine that can also be read on smartphones is a huge temptation for many publishers, I'm sure. But unless the publisher is designing a "The Magazine" or 29th Street Publishing type of publication it is usually a big mistake (though I like the original BJPhoto app that used Mag+ to create its mobile edition).

Hearst's Esquire magazine launches weekly tablet editions inside their Newsstand app to attract new readers

Hears Magazine's Esquire has begun publishing weekly tablet editions inside of its iPad Newsstand app. The weekly editions will be priced at $0.99 a piece, but will be free to those readers who already are subscribing to the iPad edition and will appear every Thursday other than on the week the main magazine becomes available.

Of course, print readers, who already are forced to subscribe again to access the digital editions, are once again locked out.

"Esquire Weekly is a little gift," writes editor in chief David Granger inside the first weekly edition. "To you, yes, our readers on the iPad. But to ourselves, too. Every time we expand Esquire's purview, each time we find a new way to broaden the topics we cover and morph the ways in which we cover them, it offers us new opportunities that always, sooner or later, surprise us by blossoming into something we really like, something really good."

The new weekly edition is, as you'd expect, not a massive issue. But it contains a fair, and maybe even generous amount of material. This isn't a Kindle Single, this is an actual tablet weekly magazine.

The design is consistent with Esquire's native tablet design (they are using the Adobe DPS) and is not overly complicated. But Esquire's staff is large enough to handle this (easy for me to say, right?) and so the added real estate can serve not only editorial purposes but advertising ones, as well.

Further, this move will reinforce Hearst's not so subtle attempt to drive readers to digital delivery. Though they do not say so, their policy of forcing print readers to choose between the postal service and Apple's Newsstand is leading to Hearst being able to brag about its digital numbers while simultaneously driving down print production costs.

"With the evolving ways our app subscribers and Esquire.com readers seek and interact with the magazine’s material, a weekly digital edition provides them with another way to access Esquire’s rich editorial on their tablet in an easily digestible format," Granger said in the magazine's announcement. "The weekly edition blends the best of new and traditional media and includes long-form content, recurring columns, video and more from our renowned writers covering a wide range of men’s lifestyle topics."

As for the app itself, Hearst will need to issue an update soon. Recent reader reviews inside the App Store have been universally bad due to continuing bugs involving issue downloads. The app, come to think of it, may not be the source of the problem, as download issues are often caused by the hosting service, subscription verification services, etc. Nonetheless, readers are not happy about the problems, though the new weekly issues may placate a few of them.



Here is a brief walk-though the first weekly issue of Esquire:

B2B tablet magazines - Part 2: QHSE Focus Magazine launches new Newsstand app, instantly claims to be the #1 magazine (on the iPad, that is)

Another B2B magazine launch that is using the MagCast platform is QHSE Focus Magazine. The app was originally launched in April but a new app has made its way into the Newsstand, most likely to house two separate editions of the magazine, though there appears to be only one in the library right now.

The app description says that it is the "world’s No. 1 iPad magazine for Quality, HSE, Lean and 6 Sigma Professionals!" but since I am quite sure that it is the ONLY iPad magazine Quality, HSE, Lean and 6 Sigma professionals the claim can be taken with a grain of salt.

Like most MagCast digital magazines the design is pretty simplistic, and not exactly reflecting that it was produced by a seasoned magazine art director. Most of the photography looks to have come from stock photo libraries rather than being shot specifically for the magazine.

The magazine is published by Roman Gurbanov, who is from Kazakhstan and is the QHSE & Sustainability Manager at ERSAI Marine, LLC, according to Gurbanov's LinkedIn profile.

Here is the publisher's own promotional video for the magazine:





When the B2B online media company VerticalNet was launched in the nineties, the executives went after both B2B print magazine editors and their ad sales staff. Print publishers for a brief time had to try and keep their revenue producers loyal as staffers were lured away with the promise of stock options. Losing an editor was one thing, but many B2B publishers really feared losing their ad sales staffs.

Today, though, with the emphasis on paid subscriptions, I am not seeing many ad people launching their own digital magazines. If they were we might be seeing B2B print publishers react more aggressively to any perceived threat from digital publications. For the most part there is no threat.

But I think that is going to be changing in the months to come. I know of several titles that will be launched this year that could shake things up a bit. The first B2B digital magazine that is launched, for instance, containing ads for the number one company in the industry will get the attention of traditional B2B publishers in a hurry.

B2B tablet magazines - Part One: independent UK publisher launches Commercial Kitchen; Mark Allen Group launches replica for Independent Nurse

If this were the late nineties, venture capital companies would be pouring money into digital-only B2B start-ups, so wide open is B2B to be disrupted by digital-only products. But it's not the late nineties, is it. Instead, this is the era of private equity investors. As a result, many major B2B publishing companies are hanging on by their finger nails in hopes that they will be able to cash out at some point in the future – investing in digital media only gets lip service, and only as a way of proving that their companies are increasing their value.

As a result, no publishing segment has been as slow to launch tablet editions and mobile media products. That there hasn't been a digital start-up to scare them all into action probably can be chalked up to the fact that so many editors, sales pros and publishers have left the industry, never to return.

But that doesn't mean that there are no new digital launches in B2B. Each month a couple trickle into the Apple Newsstand, new digital-only magazines like Commercial Kitchen from the U.K.

Published by Mark Taylor, the tablet-only magazine is using the MagCast platform which is centered on creating a PDF file using the iPad's specs, then (sometimes) enhancing it with add-ons like video, audio, etc.

In this case, the magazine early on contains an invitation to subscribe to updates and who knows what. It is odd that more publishers don't aggressively push to get more contact information in this way.

Because the tablet mag is designed specifically for the iPad, it is easy to read – though the use of PDFs as the main tool for the digital platform means that the layouts have to be very simple. Commercial Kitchen is charging £3.99 per issue, though the monthly subscription is only £1.99.

Other than the typical hiccups that come with not having a nice sized staff (TNM is a good example of that!), Taylor has done a pretty good job here. Throughout the magazine, and inside the videos, Taylor keeps saying "we" but the lack of a masthead inside digital edition, along with a bad typo in the editor's column, pretty much is a dead giveaway that this is a one man effort.

"Welcome to our first edition of Commercial Kitchen Magazine. I'll admit it was originally planned for early 2013 but I really didn't imagine how diffcicult (sic) the job at hand would be," writes Taylor, though I wish he would expounded on this a bit. A blog spot from February on the magazine's website says that the first issue was in production back on February 8 – so it did, indeed, take awhile to see the new magazine app go live.

Here is the introductory video found inside the digital magazine, which is a player linked out to YouTube (the issue only weighs in at about 17MB):





The Mark Allen Group is a London and Salisbury publisher of 50 magazines and journals. Their third Newsstand app is for Independent Nurse.

Again, this app does something that U.K. B2B publishers do not do: it opens directly to a registration page. The registration is not mandatory, so it does not violate Apple's developer guidelines, but it is a smart move, nonetheless.

Getting reader information is important for all publishers, but it is essential for B2B publishers – especially when the title in question is a qualified circulation magazine (though in this case, Independent Nurse is charging for issues).

Apple's own mechanism for information sharing, its dialogue box that appears after one has subscribed, is woefully inadequate, so until Apple approves a qualification mechanism inside the Newsstand B2B publishers will have to lure the readers to voluntarily give their information. My own preference would be to invite the readers to sign up for an e-newsletter, or some other free offering.

Morning Brief: The New Yorker and WIRED apps get minor tweaks, as does The Economist; Yahoo's CEO helps the PE firms that invested in Tumblr

Condé Nast Digital rolled out a couple app updates to improve their digital editions. These included an update to The New Yorker Magazine app to improve iPhone 5 display support. The iPhone edition was originally launched in August of last year. WIRED Magazine was also updated, though the app description only mentions "cosmetic fixes" – one of those fixes may have been the app's icon as this month's issue has a concept cover that includes only text against a white background, effective in print but pretty much invisible when seen inside the App Store.

The Economist for iPad was updated:
Dear reader,

This update will, for readers on iOS6 and above, ensure your reading position in the edition is maintained if you navigate away from the application. It also improves the performance and stability of the app. For any assistance please use the in-app help.

Thank you for reading The Economist.

- The Digital editions team


Tumblr's sale, first reported late Friday by the WSJ, was about as inevitable a sell out as there could be. Tumblr's board of investors includes Sequoia Capital, Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital, all firms that put money into the company on the promise that within a few years the company would sell itself to someone so there could be a big pay day. After putting in $125 million the pay day ended up being a $1.1 billion deal with Yahoo.

Tumblr's revenue in 2012 totalled a measly $13 million so why would Tumblr be worth $1.1 billion? The answer is that it's not, but that is just the way the game is played. PE's invest in one company, get sold to another. The execs, like members of Congress play along knowing that one day they, too, will get a payout, either through a PE investing in their company, or else a golden parachute when the time comes.

As for Tumblr, the thought is that its move towards "native advertising" will greatly increase is value, with revenue projected to greatly increase. But the idea that readers won't notice the move to what is essentially PR is highly unlikely – but then again, those that are pushing for native advertising don't think much of their readers anyways.