Publishing companies are beginning to abandon Apple Newsstand as a singular vehicle to promote their digital magazines. This is primarily due to the revised nature of the app itself with the advent of iOS 7. Companies such as Maggio noticed the magazines are being squirreled away within the newsstand and forgotten about by the majority of subscribers.
Newsstand is a section of the App Store intended for periodicals. You need to publish at least quarterly to qualify. Newsstand apps are “real” apps just like their non-Newsstand counterparts. The difference is that the publisher has decided to list them within the Newsstand section of the store.
There are a few problems with the existing newsstand structure that is alienating publishers. All Apps and Games are represented by an icon when you are browsing the app store. Digital magazines listed on the newsstand don’t have an icon and instead have smaller version of the cover art. This simply does not work on mobile phones because it is too small to accurately decipher the small print. One annoying bug is that you can release your magazine as an app outside of the newsstand, but if you do it on the newsstand first you can’t.
In 2012, John Gruber said that Newsstand is a place where apps go to be forgotten. Today the Newsstand app is much worse. The folder-like design in iOS 5 and iOS 6 has been replaced with an opaque app icon. The end result is so horrible that it’s hard to avoid thinking it was done maliciously: if someone was tasked with hiding away a set of unwanted apps, they would be likely to come back with a design that was something very much like the iOS 7 Newsstand.
Some companies are doing very well on the Newsstand but the future of publishing is done via the web and not apps. It simply takes too much time and money to use Adobe Creative Suite or buy into proprietary software to make a magazine. Considering Newsstand, Google, Zinio, Nextissue, PressReader all offer magazines, publishers are shooting themselves in the foot by customizing apps for all of these platforms. It is scalable in the long-run to invest in a HTML5 infrastructure that can be accessed on phones and tablets. You only have to update one thing, instead of a bunch of little things, which saves time and energy.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.