Digital Magazine News

Archive for Digital Magazine News

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A number of years ago when the iPad became popular, the digital magazine scene was bright and vibrant. A number of companies were leading the download charts and inclusive apps that gave you access to hundreds of publications became standard.  When Apple unveiled their Newsstand, companies started developing their own apps to offer unique experiences. Instead of relying on companies like Zinio for distribution, they decided to do it themselves. One of the last magazine companies still standing is PressReader and they just hit a major milestone.

PressReader has just announced that they have they have attained 1,000 magazines.  Condé Nast International France has joined PressReader, adding favorite titles – including Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ and Glamour – to their growing list of  top publications like T3, Martha Stewart Living, Men’s Health, Inside Golf, Elle Italia and many more.

In terms of digital magazine distribution, PressReader does things a little bit differently than their competition. On the consumer level they sell a subscription package that gives customers access to over 3,500 newspapers and magazines from 100 countries in 80 different languages.  Instead of paying per issue, you can basically read and download as much as you want for a low monthly price. The company also leverages their portfolio directly to libraries, airlines, cruise ships and hotels.

Most of the digital players still in the game normally use proxy services when they market their treasure trove of content to libraries or other sectors. Zinio for example deals with Recorded Books to market their content to libraries, whereas Next Issue and Magzter simply focuses on consumers and not B2B.

I think the one thing PressReader has done really well is establish a strong branding message, no matter what space they are selling magazines and newspapers in. They do everything themselves, without having to lean on 3rd parties to do the marketing for them.

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The Maritime industry is not the first thing you would think of when the conversation of digital books and newspapers comes up. There are over 70,000 cruise, cargo, oil rigs and military vessels in operation globally. The vast majority of staff that keep these operations running properly are workers from the Philippines, Malaysia, Russia and India. Many of the corporations that bankroll everything are putting a new emphasis on crew welfare and retention by investing in digital.

Commercial vessels really need to keep their crew entertained so they don’t jump ship to the competition. Companies spend a lot of money training them and are heavily invested in keeping them happy. Sadly, in a world full of streaming movies and audio services, it doesn’t work when it comes to being entertained on the high seas. If the crew wants to download small bits of content they have to insure their parent company is dealing with satellite internet providers such as VSAT and IMTECH. Internet access is purchased in blocks, where ships have very specific limits on how much data is available. In order to download eBooks, magazines or newspapers they have to be accessed in off-peak hours, when the internet is more reliable and not congested. Satellite obviously, is not indicative to downloading lots of content and new companies are meeting the challenge with innovative solutions.

If you are a crewman on a military submarine or apart of the US Air Force, your options to access leisure content is severely hampered. Internet access is certainly not the norm, due to security concerns, which traditionally made reading eBooks unfeasible. This has prompted the US Navy and Air Face to partner with Findaway World for the NERD and Aero e-Readers. The devices are shipped out with hundreds of eBooks and audiobook titles. There is no USB port or wireless internet access, so they are about as locked down as you can get.

The US Navy also has established ties with Overdrive since 2007 for their Knowledge Online initiative. There is currently 400 titles, with heavy emphasis on foreign language and graphic novels. Foreign language learning audio books are consistently one of the highest circulating subjects in the Navy’s collection, and the addition of eBooks in more than 10 languages was highly anticipated. Popular graphic novels, such as “The Time Machine” from Stone Arch books, and best-selling “Dummies” books for investing, grant writing, and small business, are also available to download.

Vancouver based PressReader currently has a catalog of over 3,000 newspapers and magazines. They have developed a new offline system that will allow vessels to download content in non-peak hours and distribute it to smartphones and tablets via a shipwide WIFI network. Maritime companies are starting to select publications that are relevant to the nationalities of their workers and getting the top three or four titles from those countries. This would allow a boatswain from the Philippines to get free access to the Manila Times, UNO Magazine, and Daily Inquirer to read at their leisure. Providing perks like free newspapers and magazines gives workers and officers a taste of home, without having to spend any of their own money, its the corporate cash after all that pays for it.

Getting your staff to read safety guides, regulations, weather reports and orientation information is a trial and tribulation. The print editions are often destroyed in the heat and humidity or easily get lost. This has given digital distribution a new emphasis, and PressReader Offline supports the ability for companies to upload their documents in PDF form, to be downloaded to tablets and phones on-demand.

The entire commercial maritime industry and military is trying to take advantage of the digital revolution. Crew are normally aboard for months at a time and things can get rather tedious. Can you imagine if you had the same 100 song playlist on repeat for months at a time? No matter how cool it is, it gets redundant. This is why everyone is turning to e-Books, digital magazines and newspapers to break the tedium.

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North American and European airlines have adopted the gate to gate use of e-readers, smartphones and tablets. One of the big problems is that your devices have to be put in airplane mode and the vast majority of of vessels do not have wireless internet access. This has prompted a number of notable companies to offer eBooks, magazines and newspapers as part of the in-flight entertainment system to fill the void.

Jetblue has partnered up HarperCollins will be providing excerpts from a selection of bestselling eBooks, and each digital sample will include buy buttons to a variety of retailers. Excerpted titles include Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Endgame: The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, and Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean.

Jetblue has also established a relationship with Time Inc, and passengers will have the option to buy digital editions of a number of  magazines, including InStyle, Real Simple, Southern Living, Essence, Health, Travel + Leisure, People en Español and Golf when they use JetBlue’s free WiFi.

China Southern is the largest airline in Asia by fleet size and the fifth largest airline in the world by number of passengers. They have adopted a new Android platform that allows customers to buy and read e-Books right in the in-flight entertainment system. Virgin also offers an eBook delivery service in the form of Virgin Red.

e-Books are not the only digital content to be embraced on airplanes and the airports themselves. Newspaper and Magazine company PressReader offers their content in Virgin Australia lounges, which allows guests to access over 3,000 publications. They have also ironed out an agreement with flyDubai to have about a hundred papers available in the in-flight entertainment system to read in the air. Prior to takeoff guests can use their own devices to download thousands of issues for free and can read them whenever they want.

Some airlines have been forgoing extensive in-flight entertainment systems altogether and making digital versions for Android or iOS. Some of the most notable ones include;  BoardConnect (Lufthansa Systems on Virgin Australia, Lufthansa, Condor and El Al), eXW (Panasonic on Air Canada Rouge) and AVA (Thales on LAN).

One of the big trends that has been occurring is airlines developing their own apps to facilitate digital reading. Air France has released ‘Press’ Air France ‘Press’ which lets passengers download 13 newspapers and 12 magazines up to 12 hours before departure.  On a similar note, passengers on Air France’s new regional carrier HOP!  are able to download the digital version of their local daily newspaper, as well as the local newspaper of another city of their choice.

Finally, All Nippon Airlines (ANA) in early 2013 introduced its ‘ANA Lounge Digital Service’ in its domestic lounges at 14 airports across Japan. Passengers who download the ‘ANA Lounge eBook Viewer’ can connect their device to access digital content ranging from magazines to manga comics, information on Japanese culture and inside tips from ANA cabin crews. Most of the content can be accessed for 3 hours after being downloaded and can only be accessed inside the ANA lounge, although select titles can be viewed outside the lounge as well.

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Next Issue Media has just raised $50 million dollars for their Netflix for magazine service that is being marketed in the US and Canada.

The funding comes from investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and follows a string of massive funding announcements in the media/tech space, like BuzzFeed ($50 million), Reddit ($50 million), Vox ($46.5 million), Imgur ($40 million), Business Insider ($12 million), and Vice ($500 million).

Currently Next Issue only has 150,000 paid digital subscribers in the US and Canada, but they have yet to achieve profitability. As Next Issue Media is not a public company, it does not have to share its financials and so one does not know what kind of shape the company is in. The fact they are actively courting funding leads me to believe their current business model might be unviable.

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Adobe has been running a fairly popular service for the last few years that has been marketed towards independent authors, businesses and design studios to create enhanced eBook apps for iOS. Adobe has just confirmed that starting in May 2015, these companies will either have to find other options  to publish apps, or pay thousands of dollars a month.

The Digital Publishing Suite, Single Edition puts iPad app design within reach of anyone with InDesign skills, providing an intuitive way to create unlimited apps for the iPad without writing code. This service was free to Adobe Creative Cloud members. The essence of the program was to provide an avenue to develop enhanced eBooks, cookbooks, magazines and other content using the EPUB3 framework and packaging them as dedicated apps to be sold in the Apple Newsstand or the App Store.

This move to suspend the program was not received well by a number of small business that have started to use it for their app-development pipeline. Joseph T. Sinclair said “Adobe has a complete disregard for small-time digital publishing and authors and can no longer be trusted. It’s a shame, because Adobe has been one of the best software companies in the world all these years and was thought to be a booster of digital publishing. But I will advise everyone to find a new authoring system for book apps, which I believe are the future of digital publishing. And who will needs CC to make EPUBs? It won’t be long before you can make EPUB 3 ebooks with a wide variety of authoring software. “

Jason commented on the official Adobe Blog, lamenting “I just upgraded my entire design team for our non-profit org to Adobe CC, with a primary purpose being the use of DPS. We just published our first app to the app store and was planning to start scaling that up to one of our larger publications and now you’re pulling the functionality. EPUB is not a viable alternative. I purchased to publish to the app store, not to iBooks where the publication is hidden away in an app that very few users even use.”

Adobe has confirmed that if companies still want to create apps using their Digital Publishing Suite that they have to signup for an Enterprise Account. This is a costly endeavor as each license costs $2,875 a month. I doubt many can afford that, as the previous cost to publish apps to Apple was $49.99 per month or $19.99 to publish a single app.

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Digital magazine consumption has risen 50% in the last twelve months in Canada according to new figures from The Print Measurement Bureau’s Fall report.

The Print Measurement Bureau is not exactly a household name, but they have been chronicling the rise of digital reading habits since 2013. One of the most interesting figures is the fact that only 2.9 million Canadians are reading digital magazines, which is an increase of over 57% from last year.

In a world of heavily customized apps geared towards tablets and smartphones the vast majority of Canadians are continuing to read exclusively on their computers, but mobile is on the rise jumping by 115%.

I think the most interesting statistic is how digital reading is firmly embraced by urban dwellers with higher education rather than rural. Digital magazine reading was 55% higher in Toronto than the rest of Canada.

One of the big reasons why digital magazines are on the rise is partly due to the blitz media campaigns by Next Issue. This is a pure digital service marketed by Rogers Media across all of their platforms, such as television, radio and print.

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Nintendo Extra is a new digital magazine that was designed to appeal to a younger audience. The first issue includes an introduction to The Legend of Zelda by producer Eiji Aonuma, basic tips for Mario Kart 8, a Captain Toad comic, Pokemon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby features, and the first episode of the ‘Cat Mario Show’.

The new magazine is completely free and is primarily available through the Nintendo official website. There is no word yet if the publication is planned to launch via a series of apps for iOS or Android.Last month we saw the closure of Official Nintendo Magazine and this new endeavor is likely a second attempt to help market core Nintendo properties and appeal to a new demographic.

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Magzter, the largest and fastest-growing digital magazine store and newsstand in the world, with more than 22 million users globally, is offering all 4,500 of its publications for free in the month of November—exclusive to Android users.

Magzter offers top-tier magazines like Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Elle, ESPN, Maxim, Fast Company, Forbes, The Atlantic, and more. The new promotion will last until the end of the month and really gives new users the chance to check out the ecosystem has to offer.

The company has also unveiled a new gifting platform for the holidays. If you dig the entire  digital magazine experience and elect to buy a one year subscription to your favorite publication, you get a second one for free. 

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The Economist has launched a new mobile app that provides a curated news briefing from the editors. Published each weekday morning in three editions for the Americas, Europe and Asia, Espresso brings you up to speed in just a couple of minutes at the start of your day.

The Economist Espresso offers eight articles each morning and the app is optimized primarily for smartphones. This is actually the first time in the companies 171 year history that they have offered a daily edition, so this is pretty big news.

The Economist is offering non-subscribers a one-month free trial and full access will cost £2.49/$3.99 a month. If you are already a digital subscriber to The Economist, then full access to Espresso is now included with your subscription. Simply log in to the app using your registered e-mail address and password for Economist.com or, for delivery direct to your inbox, opt in to receive Espresso via e-mail, starting next week. For more information about accessing your digital subscription benefits visit economist.com/digital

You can download the Economist Espresso for Android from the Good e-Reader App Store.


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Yahoo has been totally revising the way they show digital content on some of their biggest properties. They have adopted a unified magazine layout to  Travel, Movies, Health and Food which makes it seem fresh and modern. Yahoo DIY is the latest magazine to launch and will appeal to enthusiasts looking for ideas for their next project.

Yahoo DIY will initially focus on news items, slideshows, listicles, and original videos. They will evaluate how each one of these segments performs and make editorial changes as needed. This is uncharted terrority for Yahoo, so they brought in Katie Brown who used to do a television show on Create TV.

The DIY videos will probably require the most work. The company is currently planning three series: “Daily Made” shows off solutions for common household problems, “Home Made” provides crafters with how-to tips, and “Katie Made” offers a sneak peek inside the Editor-in-Chief’s own quirky DIY projects.

It remains to be seen if Yahoo can make this concept work, as DIY enthusiasts are fairly loyal to their forum communities and platforms. Likely, the search engine giant is looking for novel concepts to see what sticks and eventually kill off the low performers.

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RCNA Nominees

Barnes and Noble is orchestrating the first annual the Readers’ Choice Newsstand Awards. This new program looks at the best magazines published over the last year and allows users to vote on the most compelling ones. Each category has four nominees to choose from and all nominated content will be available to be read for free online with a browser based reader or on your smartphone or tablet.

All of the magazines that Barnes and Noble has selected for the Newsstand Awards will  receive a special in-store promotional display at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide for the print edition during the open voting period. If you have a Nook branded tablet, upon visiting the newsstand you will get a chance to check out all of the nominees.

Throughout the voting period, which occurs from October 20th to November 19th, readers can enter into a sweepstakes for the chance to win a fantastic grand prize of a trip for two to New York City and a $500 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, as well as other great prizes including $100 Barnes & Noble Gift Cards and Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK devices.

I think organizing a contest centered around magazines is a solid idea. There is certainly no shortage of movie, music and television awards. Once in awhile we have awards for the best author or best book, but seldom do we see anything for magazines.

The Newsstand Awards will accomplish a few things. It will give people a chance to discovery the online web-browser to read digital magazines, giving people a reason to subscribe. It also serves as an introduction to the Nook ecosystem of magazines, something that is rarely promoted. Finally, it is interesting simply to check out the shortlist of magazines that the editorial staff at Barnes and Noble has selected.

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German artist Christoph Niemann has created The New Yorker’s first-ever animated GIF cover. This is the first time the publication has ever done something like this.

“When I arrived in New York for the first time, it was pouring” said Niemann. “Maybe that’s why, to my mind, there’s no place on earth where being stuck in traffic on a rainy day is more beautiful.”

“One of the ways that he expresses himself recently has been in animated GIFs,” says Françoise Mouly, art director at The New Yorker. Mouly had given thought to using one of his earlier GIFs for the cover, but held off until now.

The New Yorker apparently had big problems integrating the cover and making it work on their website and line of apps for Android and iOS. At one point there were technical issues that caused the GIF to render as a blank space on the web. Mouly says she became “distraught.” But the team persevered and the GIF was brought to life.

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OK-Devices

OK! Magazine is abandoning their celebrity coverage and has axed the majority of their digital staff. They intend on gravitating towards a more click bait gossip direction, similar to the type of success Buzzfeed as seen.

The website informed its digital team that their services will no longer be needed. OK! is now searching for an executive editor, who can steer the website towards more gossip-oriented coverage and less celebrity-friendly stories.

Dylan Howard, who currently serves a VP of news at AMI, editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer and editorial director at RadarOnline, will re-launch OK! Magazine’s website with a new team, insiders said. The future staff will be based in New York. The site previously laid off its team in Los Angeles and it was unclear if they will eventually be replaced.

The writing was on the wall back in 2012 that another celebrity website was not generating strong revenue. This promoted the merger between Star and OK! to share a common editorial direction.

OK! plans on revamping their online website and they intend on releasing a series of apps for Android and iOS.

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