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Every single day there are 60,000 cruise, cargo and oil rigs 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. This has opened up a new market for digital publishing companies to keep the staff entertained and use it as perks to keep trained personnel from going to the competition.

Maritime operations, whether its a cruise ship, oil rig or cargo vessel often do not have reliable internet access. The companies often deal 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.

Cargo vessels and oil rigs often have staff that are on the vessel for up to six months at a time. Keeping them entertained is a top priority to keep them loyal and happy. This has opened up a tremendous niche in the marketplace where some companies are taking advantage of the sparse options currently available.

Vancouver based PressReader currently has a catalog of over 2,000 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 lost amidst the huge vessels. This has warranted digital distribution, and PressReader Offline supports the ability for companies to upload their documents in PDF form, to be downloaded to tablets and phones on-demand.

PressReader offline has been in a year long pilot project and the system was co-developed by Silver Seas Cruises. It was trialed on a number of vessels to get feedback on how it could be integrated, using existing systems and the limitations of satellite internet. The offline capabilities have been a big hit and is now being used on vessels globally.

Established satellite internet providers are also leaping at the oportonity to fill this burgeoning entertainment niche. InfoSat is currently developing a new system that will allow vessels to have unlimited satellite internet access and offer a wide array of media. Maps, music, Videos, Newspapers, magazines and eBooks will be a top priority for the global launch.

If you are a crewman on a military submarine, your options to access leisure content is severely hampered. Internet access is non-existent, due to security reasons, which traditionally made reading eBooks unfeasible. This has prompted the US Navy to partner with Findaway World for the NERD e-Reader. It comes with 300 eBooks and audiobooks and has no USB port or WIFi internet access. In essence, it is a tremendously low security risk and provides an alternative to movies or the XBox.

I think this is the perfect time for the maritime industry to embrace audiobooks, ebooks, magazines and digital newspapers as an avenue to retain staff and keep everyone entertained. After all, most just rely on mindless activities such as video games, movies or sports. Reading gives them a taste of home and a widened mind.

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The New Yorker exemplifies a high society paper that chronicles commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons, and poetry. The paper has been going strong since 1925 and recently they have been working like fiends to make sure their website is brought up to modern standards. Not only do they have a new responsive design that makes it shine on computers, but now looks stellar on phones and tablets. In order to celebrate, they are giving away any new content they publish away for free and also are opening up their digital  archives from 2007 to 2014.

In a statement on their blog the editorial staff said “Beginning this week, absolutely everything new that we publish—the work in the print magazine and the work published online only—will be unlocked. All of it, for everyone. Call it a summer-long free-for-all. Non-subscribers will get a chance to explore The New Yorker fully and freely, just as subscribers always have. Then, in the fall, we move to a second phase, implementing an easier-to-use, logical, metered paywall. Subscribers will continue to have access to everything; non-subscribers will be able to read a limited number of pieces—and then it’s up to them to subscribe. You’ve likely seen this system elsewhere—at the Times, for instance—and we will do all we can to make it work seamlessly.”

So the New Yorker intends on borrowing a page out of the New York Times playbook to implement a paywall for all of their online content. This will make the majority of it be indexed on Google and used as reference by other online publications. Users will be able to read X articles per month for free and if they want to read more, they have to subscribe. This is likely why they are giving away everything for free right now, to drum up a new readership base and then try and get them to pay.

Jeff Howe, a professor of multimedia journalism at Northeastern University, called the new paywall strategy a good one. “Paywalls aren’t the silver bullet news outlets thought they would be back in the Jurassic period of the internet’s development, but a limited and intentionally leaky one becomes one of a bunch of revenue streams to staunch further declines, and maybe even help ward off that terrible vortex of losses leading to layoffs leading to readership declines leading to losses.”

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Traditional magazine advertising often captivates readers attention due to color, gloss and shine. When it comes to reading on a tablet, such as the iPad, do advertisements still resonate?

According to new research by GfK MRI Starch Advertising readers respond to digital advertisements at the same rate as print. They found that the average level of reader recall for both print and digital ads last year was 52%. The most effective digital magazine ads were recalled by more than 80% of readers, in line with the most effective print ads.

Not all adverts are created equal and the research found that customers respond to very specific campaigns. Advertisements for  for household products had the highest average reader recall scores. Vegetable juices had a 66% average level of reader recall,  while candy and beverages tied for the second highest average reader recall score for print ads at 64%.

28,624 magazine ads in 805 tablet magazine issues published last year were part of the report.

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It’s no secret that newspapers as a whole are on the decline. Some of the longest-standing family-owned outlets in the country have already shuttered their doors, and the ones who are managing to stay afloat are doing so with the help of digitization efforts and an online presence. This characteristic of journalistic publishing made the news this past spring that Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, had purchased the Washington Post all that much more interesting.

The Washington Post has an interesting history in its own right, one that includes the fame of bringing down a US President with its involvement in exposing the Watergate scandal. But according to an article about the paper in the Columbia Journalism Review, the Post has done little else since then to stay on top of the newspaper publishing market.

And that’s supposed to be where Jeff Bezos comes in. The man who built an empire out of selling stuff online did so by sticking to the concept that today’s work is never good enough, so there are those who are anxious to see how that translates into the future for an entity that is built on yesterday’s news.

According to the CJR, Bezos was the one who was approached about buying the paper for the simple reason that he could afford to, and because he had the digital know-how to bring the paper back to some measure of relevance. The owners at the time, an almost century-old family enterprise, knew they had a sinking ship on their hands if they didn’t catch up to what the rest of the digital publishing industry was doing, namely making the switch to digital subscriptions and app-based news opportunities like Press Reader or Zinio.

One of the big obstacles for the Post to overcome will be its narrow focus. Known as a Washington insiders’ look and the top-notch source of news that related to the small world of politics, that model isn’t going to be enough for Bezos. The man who morphed from selling books to publishing books to selling diapers, groceries, and hardware isn’t going to be content with a narrow focus like the Post’s. Fortunately, that focus is already shifting, and the paper is hiring.

One thing is certain, and that if anyone is qualified to bring a publishing outlet–even a journalism outlet–into the future, Bezos is the man to do it. What remains to be seen is whether or not he will cut his losses and close its doors, or if the paper will even resemble its historic ancestors once he’s finished with it.

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With the help of some non-profit agency grant funding, Mozilla is working to make the internet a place that fosters better discussion and more reader-centric but newsworthy content. After securing around $3.9 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which provides significant funding to groups that are promoting new practices in journalism, Mozilla and two major news outlets are building a platform that will offer not only better reader comments’ sections, but will also leverage the ability of readers to create and post content.

As a key supporter of open standards in the internet, non-profit Mozilla–the creators of the Firefox web browser, among other innovations–is working with The New York Times and The Washington Post on this initiative. Currently, news sites have to screen reader comments before posting immediately, which can not only be a drain on manpower but can also lead to readers leaving the website. With advertising considerations, sites want readers to spend as much time as possible on their websites; the bigger issue, of course, is that readers cannot stay engaged in the discourse if they have to wait for their comments to be approved.

It’s also possible that a lot of the notoriously bad behavior found in the comments sections of news sites and other posting platforms stems from that same feeling of disconnectedness. If commenters know that their feedback is valued and contributes to the ongoing dialogue, there is a valid hope that their comments will be more purposeful. As it stands, sites that require difficult login processes don’t get as much reader feedback, but those that allow basic anonymous commenting get the “grenade effect” of tossing a commentary grenade into the room and evacuating.

More importantly, this joint effort will also allow readers to submit more than pithy diatribe. The goal is to build a platform that fluidly accepts links, photos, videos, and more, all contributed by reader-users. With three powerhouses at the helm of this project, several other publishers have already announced that their sites are anticipating an upcoming rebuild in order to change the way dialogue happens online.

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With the launch of Samsung‘s newest tablet offering, the Galaxy Tab S, consumers must be wondering what makes the new device so compelling, so stand-out that it’s worthy of their hard earned money. Just from a digital reading standpoint, there’s a lot about the tablet that stands out, particularly thanks to Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite.

With the release of DPS v31, which is the only platform that supports Samsung’s new digital magazine reading experience Papergarden, new features in content previewing, purchasing from directly within a preview, and more are going to streamline the magazine content sales realm. This release will power both this tablet launch and another from Samsung.

“Samsung is excited to have partnered with Adobe to use Digital Publishing Suite to build the new Papergarden application. Samsung’s new magazine service, Papergarden, enables users to view a wide range of top-tier magazine titles exactly as the photographers intended, reproducing colors just as vividly and accurately as the print versions,” said Daniel Park, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics’ Media Solution Center. “Papergarden is tightly integrated with the robust DPS native Android Viewer and strives to deliver a highly engaging service that will delight Samsung Galaxy users in its purchase simplicity and interactive content experience with an optimized viewing environment for interactive digital magazines.”

Good e-Reader spoke to Adobe’s Lynly Schambers-Lenox for a demo of what’s new in v31, and how DPS is making it even easier to drive sales.

“This is the first time we’ve partnered with a hardware supplier on content. With v31, users can see a preview of content, but that preview and the purchase functionality are now very tightly connected. Publishers can build segments for push notifications and can drive readers to custom markets or URLs, all with the intention of driving engagement.”

One of the more exciting enhancements to this newest release is the Folio Showcase, which lets publishers set up a default library of content that they especially want to highlight. There are key visuals in the showcase, along with content samples, and the pricing is “front and center” for consumers to make a content purchasing decision. All of this leads to an increase in sales and user engagement with the material.

The new version has already rolled out and is available for preview through Adobe.

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Blurb,  a company that begin by producing limited print runs of graphics-heavy paper books before expanding into a digital publishing platform for self-published authors with a suite of user friendly tools, has been on a mission lately to acquire key products and support personnel to make their platform even more engaging, easy to use, and far-reaching. A release from the company today fell in line with their current mission when Blurb announced that it had acquired several key members of the Graphicly team, including co-founder Micah Baldwin.

“This acquisition of incredibly relevant talent will help us advance our vision of 21st century authoring,” said Eileen Gittins, Blurb founder and CEO. ”What self publishers need now is the ability to focus on the creative aspect of authoring, with output automatically generated for all relevant ebook formats, as well as print output.”

Graphicly was one of the pioneers of illustrated ebooks, which included children’s, graphic novels, comics, and more. For its part, Blurb has made its platform easier to use, no longer requiring InDesign files by creating a drag-and-drop suite for file creation. Blurb has also added expanded distribution to major print and ebook retailers and the Ingram catalog, with new announcements for other distribution opportunities slated for this summer.

“Authoring isn’t just for authors anymore,” continued Gittins. “For the past 18 months we have been working behind the scenes to build out support for people who want to publish any kind of book – both print and ebooks – whether highly illustrated, or text-driven or a combination of the two. But ‘publish’ doesn’t stop at the point of creation; authors need and want to get the widest possible audience and that means broader distribution and marketing support.”

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As big data works its way into the publishing industry mindset, information gathered from online retailers can provide an insightful peek at what’s happening in the world of bookselling. Amazon’s editors have once again compiled comprehensive lists based on sales data, figures which have helped translate that information into rankings by not only bestselling titles but also where the top book purchasing consumers are located.

According to news from Amazon, the bestselling title activity for the current period by city is:

Inferno by Dan Brown was the best-selling book overall in Alexandria, Va., followed by Divergent by Veronica Roth and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Divergent was the most-read book by Goodreads users in Alexandria. While Alexandria, Va. bought the most books overall, Cambridge, Mass. bought the most print books, and Knoxville, Tenn. purchased the most Kindle books. Seattle, Wash. made the biggest gain this year, jumping from the #13 spot in 2013 to #4 this year. Cambridge, Mass. continues to grow more budding entrepreneurs than any other city, ordering the most books in the Business & Investing category. Top titles include Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and perennial best seller StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Looking only at cities with more than one million residents, San Diego, Calif. is the most well-read.”

As for cities where more book purchases are happening, Alexandria, Virginia, has held onto the top spot for a number of years, and other cities have shown marked leaps in ranking. The top cities for print and digital book, magazine, and newspaper sales are:

Alexandria, Va.
Miami, Fla.
Knoxville, Tenn.
Seattle, Wash.
Orlando, Fla.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Berkeley, Calif.
Cambridge, Mass.
Cincinnati, Ohio
Columbia, S.C.
St. Louis, Mo.
Pittsburgh, Penn.
Vancouver, Wash.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Atlanta, Ga.
Gainesville, Fla.
Dayton, Ohio
Clearwater, Fla.
Richmond, Va.
Tallahassee, Fla.

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Yahoo has been rebranding all of their major properties with a new digital magazine layout. Yahoo Food and Yahoo Travel were two of the largest ones to launch this year and we can now add Yahoo Movies to the mix.

The new movie website was designed with a new responsive theme that will look great on computers, tablets or smartphones. The content is geared towards trailers, celebrity Q&As, live streaming of awards shows, image galleries, and industry news. Yahoo also promises an onslaught of original content by a team of editors that will write essays on the film industry.

Yahoo Movies also marks the first product launch under Josh Wolk, the former Entertainment Weekly senior editor recently brought on as executive editor of Yahoo Entertainment. Other recent editorial hires include a former “Page Six” editor to oversee Yahoo Travel, and Elle veteran Joe Zee as editor in chief for Yahoo Fashion.

I think the new magazine layout template Yahoo is using with Movies, Food and Travel is a solid step forward. Over the last ten years the Yahoo brand has been growing really stale and not feeling fresh or modern. With the advent of solid hires on the design and editorial side, things are looking fresh. This new digital magazine system is also the testbed for the new Yahoo ad units, that blend contextual adverts amidst the regular content.

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Digital publishing tool provider Aquafadas has had an ongoing relationship with Kobo‘s digital content consumption platform for quite some time, but news came out today that the partnership just got better. Aquafadas initially released its Cloud Authoring tool as a streamlined process for publishers looking to make their digital magazines and newspapers even better for readers on Kobo’s line of devices and on personal computers. Today, the company announced new features that will make the process even easier to use, virtually eliminating the need for programmers or developers in order to publish their content.

“While there are many barriers to entry in the world of digital publishing – time, money, manpower, the list goes on – Kobo and Aquafadas essentially break them down and offer publishers a way in, without creating more work for either party,” says Claudia Zimmer, CEO, Aquafadas. “By using Aquafadas Cloud Authoring to convert magazines into digital-friendly versions, all publishers need to do is provide Kobo with their magazine PDF files, which have already been created. The entire conversion process takes place behind the scenes and in the cloud.”

Using the same PDFs that publishers’ teams of designers make for print editions, Kobo can then seamlessly turn those into digital editions without delay or lengthy reworking.

“We’re extremely pleased with the power and versatility that Aquafadas Cloud Authoring offers in terms of digitizing content,” says Michael Tamblyn, Kobo’s president and chief content officer. “Publishers now have easy access to a global market across virtually any device or platform. Their digital offering becomes robust, intuitive and visually engaging – just as they intended. By offering publishers this conversion service, we are able to not only save them time and money, but quickly give them an entirely new revenue stream.”

One of the new features is the Guided Reading function, which creates a smoother experience for interacting with a digital edition by eliminating the need for touch-based panning and zooming. This also allows the creation of exciting features like an interactive table of contents and the ability to access a complete library of both books and magazines all from within the one user account.

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Many nonconventional companies are starting to get involved in the news business. The most recent one to develop a strategy was Facebook Paper that launched a few months ago and curates content from mainstream news organizations. Pepsi, Red Bull and Mini Cooper have all hired in-house writers to develop a slew of original content. Ebay is hoping to capitalize on this growing trend, turning its main site into a digital magazine.

Devin Wenig is the President of the global eBay Marketplaces business unit. He came to the company from Thomson Reuters in September 2011.  He knows something about journalism and is laying down the foundation to turn eBay into a digital magazine. In order to facilitate this he has hired a “chief content curator” and dozens of  editors and long-form writers to help turn its site into a digital magazine.

Currently eBay is laying down the blueprint of how they will transform their main landing pages to provide data-driven stories about the items people are most searching for, infographics depicting surprising top sellers and unique seasonal stories. Currently the template of this new initiative is evident in the Pinterest inspired Ebay Today.

The main intention behind the digital magazine aspect of eBay is to hire specialists from many different industries. If you are hunting eBay for sports cards, comic books or even a new pair of PRPS jeans,  you will in the future encounter articles about fashion, geek culture and sports memorabilia. This will encourage people to visit the site daily on the PC or their  mobile device to keep informed about the latest news and happenings of the industry. Following the sports card examples, Ebay will likely keep track of new series, expansion or critical information like who is in the running for Rookie of the year, to assist you to buy the right cards.

Ebay is betting on original content will get people visiting the site every day and hopefully make impulse buys along the way. If their vision is realized and every single sub-category as their own dedicated curation expert it could be the competitive advantage they need to battle Amazon.

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The National Magazine Awards have been going strong in the US since 1966 and this years contenders saw a dramatic spike in mobile traffic due to their optimized websites and dedicated apps. Fast Company has won the prestigious magazine of the year, beating out The Atlantic, Bon Appetit and Esquire.

Over 600 magazine editors attended the Nation Magazine Awards in New York and many awards were given out in various categories. Fast Company won the major award but the New Yorker took home 4 different awards.

On the digital side, New York magazine was awarded with the Ellie for Best Website, while National Geographic won for both Tablet Magazine and Multimedia. Glamour dominated the digital video category with its Screw You Cancer documentary series. Digital only sites like Slate, Pitchfork, The Atavist, The Daily Beast and The Verge were contenders but did not win any awards.

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Digital magazines presented a slight conundrum to the publishing industry when they first became available on the high-color and easily manipulated tablets. While limited titles were available in the days of slow-to-load black-and-white e-readers, the pictures that so many readers loved–and advertisers relied on in order to be convinced to foot the bill for production–proved to be problematic. Once tablets came on the scene, a limited number of publishers were ready to take advantage of the technology.

Unfortunately, it seems like the rest of the publishing industry quickly followed the leaders. A host of apps and subscriptions services have made magazines discovery in the app stores and virtual newsstands almost as much of a problem as it is for books.

New enhancements and algorithms in Apple’s Newsstand are at work to change that, though. An article by Allison Reber for The Guardian points out that the interactivity associated with many of the top selling digital magazines–with features like embedded video and hyperlinks and the ability to shop within the magazine for products that are mentioned–have helped boost those titles into positions of more prominence. Incorporating push notifications is also important, according to Reber, as they help turn readers into customers within the app. Those in-app purchases add up and get Apple’s attention.

Reber went on to mention other factors that can play a role in magazine discovery and some suggestions Apple can integrate into its Newsstand, but readily pointed out that reviews–as in all things consumer-related, especially where reading material is concerned–can make or break an app in the blink of an eye.