Publishers can't fix iPad magazine app frustration

Publishers can't fix iPad magazine app frustration

Justin Williams from Carpeaqua breaks down the egregiously horrible user experience involved in just trying to get an issue of GQ, Esquire, or Sports Illustrated magazine loaded on the iPad.

Reading magazines on the iPad is an exercise in frustration. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. As great a device and, more importantly, platform as Apple has created, magazine publishers have done nothing short of fumble the snap in their own end zone.

Williams provides a list of 10 things publishers can do to help improve things, and it's a good list but it doesn't address the core problem -- publishers are the wrong people to fix it.

The record labels didn't create iTunes. Apple did. The record companies still, to this day, over a decade later, don't understand the fundamentals of selling content in the digital age.

Jim Dalrymple of The Loop nails it:

The first rule of any business should be “don’t piss off your customers.” Many publishers are failing.

Imagine if, instead of iTunes we had the Warner Brothers app, the Harry Potter Movie app, the U2 app, and a myriad other, fragmented, experientially challenged, old-model ad festooned crapware.

It would be untenable. It is untenable.

Forget publishers. We need iMagazine.

Source: Carpeaqua via The Loop

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Publishers can't fix iPad magazine app frustration


There is this thing called "the web" where you can get to a magazine using something called "a link"

my neighbor's sister-in-law made $210160 so far just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more here...

I think there is a fundamental difference between the music industry and the publishing industry.
Musicians can afford to reduce their income from the sales of CDs and recover that on public performances. They don't care if their record label is making much less money now, because the label has always been the useless middle men.
The publishing industry is quite different, there are no public perfomances to make up for lost sales. Writers work with publishers in a quite different way, more like partners and less like competitors.
What works for music and iTunes will not necessarily work for magazines and books and it is very simplistic to just compare industries as if they were the same.

I'd add that publishing books and publishing magazines are totally different businesses. Books never need to be updated. You sell a book, customers keep it forever, read it multiple times etc. Whether it's hardback, paperback, or digital, it's the same deal. And the book purchase price is where your revenue stream comes from.
On the other hand, magazines and newspapers need to be quickly and easily updated. They're essentially disposable ad-delivery mechanisms. Your revenue comes from advertising in the publication itself, and from advertisers who buy your subscriber contact info and put ads in front of their eyeballs. Sleazy, yes, but that's the way it's always been done. On paper and online.
Since newspapers and magazines need to be frequently updated, to maintain their image of being valuable content, that update process needs to be quick and easy. And apparently it's not that way on iPad. So yes, I'd agree that the publishers need to get their act together and work with Apple to smooth out the delivery process. Adapt or die.

You need Newsstand and you have it. I think Apple botched this one, not the publishers. I realllly liked Newsstand when I used it then I found each magazine is an app. That's the fail.
Apple should "stand on the shoulders" of Amazon again and go the route of the Kindle store and magazines. They show up right inside of the app, I read, I move on.

It's not an Apple application, but a superior alternative already exists, though not all magazine publishers are onboard. Anyone else use Zinio? You can do year subscriptions and it automatically let's you know when a new issue is able to be downloaded...all content is viewed directly from the app. It's great!

I doubt 10% is correct Rene. Isn't that 10% AFTER their "fees" come out? :) That's how it usually works, at least on my end that's how publishers have rolled [hence my writing hiatus]. lol

Yeah, got that w/ the last line but the onus was placed on the publishers. I believe it is Apple who is failing their customers by creating an avenue for publishers to provide poor experiences.

You had a good deal. :) lol.
Yeah, tech books [not ebooks] follow that old model. I'm interested in ebook'ing it in the future though. Some solid writing options out there just gotta find the time.

Apple and iOS are 2 steps ahead of the old dead-forest publishing model. The first step was, as Guest said, "the web." Publishers didn't "get it," and resisted change. Now there are apps. Apple is relentlessly app-ifying "the web." And the publishers are just barely starting to clue in.

Even if they were 2 steps ahead of the old publishing model wouldn't you want to be working with your content providers instead of against them? I'm a publisher of a small magazine and the options for your average small magazine are NILL. You have to spend a bucketload of money to have a company convert our files into "apps". Each app acts differently and most of them don't work much at all. So instead of each magazine being it's own app, newstand itself should be the application and the magazine content would be delivered through this app instead of the publishers needing that 3rd party to convert the files. A file converting software that is a decent price and will produce a file for Apple to make available through their Newstand app would be ideal. Apple would get it's cut and the end user wouldn't be left with a bad experience because the app maker (hired by the publisher) isn't producing a quality product. I doubt this has anything to do with "getting it" it's more about "communication" and the head of the horse not knowing where the ass end is going. Publishers want their product getting to the most amount of people and if that means producing a digital product then the publisher would want to "get it" right? The system itself has changed over and over within a months span and is left with the publisher scrambling and the end user getting the "outs".

We have an option for the little guy, wish I could promote here. Don't give up if you really want to go digital, search for solutions as I am sure we are not the only high quality, fair priced app developers out there.
I definitely do not want iMagazine. Apple already is becoming a monopoly and will put the small app producers out of business and control prices for publishers

Ouch. Even after factoring in the physical media cost (manufacturing, packaging, shipping, insurance, etc.) that's slim pickings. I wonder how much authors get for digital-only publications. With near-zero unit production cost.

Let me tell you where the problem is. Apple made the media (iPad) and ink which is iOS. However the creators AKA designers like myself are not programmers. We designers are stuck working with Adobe software, and as it happens they are not great friends of Apple because of the flash hoopla/ iOS development tools. So in order to publish a Mag on AppStore I have to design it in inDesign but the Adobe made so that we can only do it through their Folio system for allot of money.
There was Woodwing but they were bought by Adobe, and they weren't cheap either. Here comes Mag+ which is in their infancy and are more affordable, but not much functionality. Everything would be OK if there were a way to export from iDesign as HTML 5. Adobe has one called Wallaby but they are not developing it all the way to keep Folio making money. Every couple of months the

I recommend the use of ZINIO to read magazines in the ipad, you choose the magazine, pay through apple store, download the copy and almost inmediately you can read with zoom, pinch, scroll, swipe and other functions, is a more pleasant experience that those apps from every magazine publisher that overwhelms you, and its multilingual app, multiple magazines.