Logging in ByPlace and the Scottish Referendum

Some Scottish University have logged in for ByPlace access to Prospect and the New Statesman for the period of the Scottish Independence referendum. Good news for the Student Unions of Aberdeen, Stirling, Napier and Dundee in Fresher’s week as new students arrive many of them with the right to vote in the referendum in 3 weeks.

Here is a picture of the access zone now available at Strathclyde:



So what is the user experience for a Strathclyde student (or anyone else near the Student Uni offices) who wants to get access to either or both magazines.

  • First you have to be in the zone with an iOS device
  • Then you pick up the app for Prospect ByPlace or the New Statesman ByPlace from iTunes
  • Open the app and scroll through it.
  • When you come to a page where the content is blocked — press the button which gives you free access to content by location
  • When the iPhone asks you to confirm that you will let the app know where you are. It will politely ask you for confirmation
  • You are away. You have free access as long as you are in the zone



Scottish Referendum ByPlace

Exact Editions ByPlace technology makes it possible to use and read magazine apps for free in specific locations.

This technology is getting an exciting and innovative use for the next four weeks as we lead up to the Scottish Independence Referendum. Two magazines using the Exact Editions app platform: Prospect and the New Statesman are projecting their apps for free at locations (bars, hotels, clubs, libraries etc) in Scotland. The Act of Union came into effect 214 year ago and up to 214 free locations will be created for these magazines in the course of the referendum campaign. There is no charge to the location and no charge to the user. Free means free.

If you run or patronise a club or hotel or a popular meeting place where the Scottish Referendum will be discussed and should be discussed and studied with the benefit of these leading titles, you may propose the venue for inclusion at this page on the Exact Editions web site: http://www.exacteditions.com/indyref

Loretto School, Musselburgh, is the first location in Scotland to have free access through this promotion.



If you pass by Loretto School or attend a function there in the next few weeks, you will be able to get free access to these magazines and get the latest from their correspondents, columnists and editors on the crucial decision that Scotland will now take. Download the iOS app from iTunes for the New Statesman  and/or Prospect. Open the app within 200m of the school and indicate that you wish to have access to free content by location. You will then have complete free access to the content. If you are using WiFi you will even be able to sync an issue and walk away with the latest issue on your device. As more locations sign up we will be broadcasting the news on the Exact Editions twitter feed. Stay tuned.

Disruptive Innovation in the Magazine Industry

Clayton Christenson’s theory of disruptive innovation has had enormous influence on management thinking and investor’s approach to information technology.

The basic idea is explained at his web site.

As companies tend to innovate faster than their customers’ needs evolve, most organizations eventually end up producing products or services that are actually too sophisticated, too expensive, and too complicated for many customers in their market.

Companies pursue these “sustaining innovations” at the higher tiers of their markets because this is what has historically helped them succeed: by charging the highest prices to their most demanding and sophisticated customers at the top of the market, companies will achieve the greatest profitability.

However, by doing so, companies unwittingly open the door to “disruptive innovations” at the bottom of the market.

- See more at: http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

The magazine industry has been a textbook case of this disruptive innovation in the way that the established industry leaders have reacted to the opportunity presented by mobile devices and tablet technology. Both the magazine companies (Hearst, Time Warner, Condé Nast and the major publishers) and their suppliers — Adobe in particular, have seen the task of producing tablet-ready digital magazines as a challenge to produce more complicated solutions, magazines that need to be read up-and-down, left-and-right, with pages that slide or fail to adjust to landscape, and with columns that do, and sometimes do not move, with the layout. Readers have been presented with extraordinarily complicated, and extraordinarily dissimilar solutions. It is not yet generally agreed in the industry that these complex, innovative solutions do not work. It is not yet being shouted from the roof-tops, but it is no longer controversial to recognise that what users want from their digital magazines is much closer to the model of the page-based, fixed layout, consistent design, package of the print look-alike, than to the futuristic propositions that were being canvassed two or three years ago.

So where is the low-end disruption coming from? So far, the competition appears to have been coming from the incumbents themselves. The magazine publishers have been watching the sales figures and have generally decided that the page-based solution, is cheaper to produce, at least as popular with the audience and has a much higher return on investment, so the publishers are ‘disrupting’ their own earlier efforts to over-engineer the digital magazine. But Clayton Christensen’s theory tells us that these ‘low-end disruptions’ really are disruptive and they are by no means as simple as they appear to be at first glance. When Ford and GM dismissed the Toyota and its inroads with compact models, they were underestimating the way in which carefully engineered, reliable cars were changing their market. They were failing to see how hard it is to produce a really efficient and beautiful smaller car.

Something similar is happening with the page-based model for digital magazines. Producing digital magazines that can be easily and straightforwardly enjoyed through the web, and on Android and iOS devices is not a trivial matter. Furthermore the digital magazine has to do more than the print magazine. It should be searchable, it should be linkable and Tweet-able, it should work on a small format device and on a large desktop. It should be pick-upable and put-downable. It should remember where you were and be syncable if you need to dive into a tunnel. It should be obvious and it should be easy. Getting all this right is not trivial, and getting it all right creates some disruptive potential.

Moving from months to moments

The Guardian carries an interesting interview with Duncan Edwards the CEO of Hearst Magazines International. He has been with the company for 25 years and he has an interesting take on the competitive environment that magazine publishers now face:

Faced with competition from the BuzzFeed generation of digital upstarts, Edwards, chief executive of Hearst International, delivered an edict to his magazine editors: “From months to moments”.

“With the advent of mobile, smartphones and tablets, consumer expectations have changed,” he says. “Some content-driven pure plays were fast to realise that was an opportunity – examples everyone uses are BuzzFeed and [fashion and beauty site] Refinery29. We had to re-educate and re-structure our teams. We are moving from months to moments in our editorial thinking.” Hearst’s Duncan Edwards, ‘We are moving from months to moments’.

This mantra sits pretty askew with the rest of the interview, which stresses the long-term decisions that Edwards has taken since 2000 which have, on the whole worked out pretty well for Hearst (or Nat. Mags as they used to be known within the industry). The move into women’s weeklies in 2002, an alliance with Rodale in 2004, and the steady and still continuing success of Good Housekeeping. Historically magazine fortunes have not been built on instant success. Magazine hits have evolved over years, if not decades. There may be a kind of ‘shock effect’ by telling his editors to think in moments not months, but I hope that Duncan Edwards has not lost sight of the fact that the magazine business is not for nothing a periodical business. Success tends to be cumulative, and success results in renewals and recurring moments.

If Hearst Magazine International thinks it is in a toe-to-toe competition with BuzzFeed and Refinery29 it is going to come off second best. BuzzFeed and Refinery29 are parts of the competitive landscape for Elle and Cosmopolitan, but they are very different kettles of fish.

At Exact Editions we think that magazine publishers should no longer be moving on a month-to-month schedule, but the answer is not to be fussing about moment-to-moment tactical news stories. The key metric for the success of a digital magazine industry is the metric of renewable subscriptions. And in this context Duncan Edwards’ comment that only 80,000 issues being are currently being sold per month for the Hearst UK tablet titles is a real shocker. The number should be much higher, but the metric that really matters is: how many of those issues are being sold to subscribers, and how many of those subscribers are renewing annual/monthly/quarterly subscriptions. Hearst Magazines needs to turn its app subscriptions around so that they become a bright spot, and revenue from digital subscriptions is the key to that.




Transition Free Press joins the Apple Newsstand

We’re thrilled to announce that Transition Free Press has joined the Exact Editions webstore, and is now making it’s debut in the Apple Newsstand.


Transition Free Press is a quarterly newspaper, built around the idea of sustainable communities and towns, with emphasis on the environment and community spirit. The focus is always on solutions, so if you’re looking for a positive and inspiring break from the standard doom-and-gloom press, this is the title for you!


The app incorporates all the features you’ve come to expect from Exact Editions (comprehensive search, offline bookmarked content and social media sharing, to name a few) and also comes with ground-breaking ByPlace™ technology enabled.

Available on the App Store