Poetry Wales Digital Edition now available!

Poetry Wales is now available to download as an app or online

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Poetry Wales is a magazine with an international reputation for excellent poetry, features and reviews, exploring Welsh poetry in its diversity. 

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A magazine open to tradition and experimentation, it offers a fantastic platform for the best contemporary poetry. Click here to subscribe. 

Available-on-App-Store

Reading Magazines: Down, Horizontal or Deep?

This has been a quiet summer in the magazine industry. Sprinkled with some encouraging news, for example, from the sale of 50% of The Economist for a price which values the whole group at well over $1 billion. The Economist Group incorporates a successful consultancy as well as a top tier magazine, but the magazine is the key element of the brand and a big part of the value in the group. So that is a very strong valuation in difficult times.

There is a marked uncertainty in the magazine industry about its future and a lack of confidence about the direction that digital magazines should be taking. Most of the mainstream consumer magazine publishers that I have spoken to, admit that print is steadily on the way out and the future is digital. Yet there is no established consensus about how digital magazines should work. Are apps the answer? Should we be investing in better web-sites? Shopping and e-commerce? Programatic advertising? Social networks? Subscriptions or micro-payments? All or none of the above? There is no consensus.

There is even a deep uncertainty about the nature of the digital product that is being produced, which amounts to a confusion or disagreement about the direction in which the magazine reader’s experience should flow.

The ‘traditional’ wisdom for digital magazines that we saw emerging with the first iPad apps and with Adobe Creative Suite, is that digital magazines should really scroll and slide. The story should go down and the issue should go across. With each article forming a nice web-like story. With these magazine apps there is both horizontal flow through the issue, but a strong vertical movement as the reader burrows down into the story. This ‘matrix’ model of how to read a digital magazine issue actually creates enormous problems for editorial and design work-flow and especially for the increasing variety of display devices that need to be accommodated. The across+down model of how to read an issue really is problematic.

So there has been increasing interest in a yet more horizontal view of how to read magazines. We can call this the Flipboard model. According to this ideology, the way we want to interact with digital magazines is much like our interaction with printed magazines in a dentist’s waiting room, of course with more choice and speed, and digital elegance. We pick up a stack of magazine-type sources and then rapidly flip through them, snacking on stories as we go.  We need a lot of magazines for this model of magazine reading, and with this heap of assets we can make a unique solution for each reader. The production of individual magazine issues can be hived off to a web-style production method (each publisher can look after her own workflow as long as they pump out an RSS feed) and through the Flipboard as many brands or issues as each individual user wishes to “read/subscribe-to” can be accommodated through RSS aggregation. This proposal might be great for the user in that it enables a high degree of customisability by interest. Further Flipboard produced a very impressive app and a technically elegant but rather agnostic design solution for magazine content; but, and it is a big ‘but’, there has been so far zero evidence that Flipboard consumption can generate significant revenues for publishers. It will be very interesting to see whether the Apple News app (coming very soon to an iOS device near you) will be able to prove that this horizontal aggregation can generate sustainable revenues for publishers.  My hunch: the Apple News app might turn out to work nicely for iOS users and for Apple. If it does, that will probably not be good news for Flipboard, and it will not necessarily be great news for magazine publishers.

So what is the other reading model that digital magazines should be exploring? The dimension that these rival reading models have tended to ignore is the dimension of time. Perhaps the most unique and characteristic feature of the print magazine industry is that it has been a wonderful way of getting consumers to jump on a publishing train. Think about this word:

PERIODICAL

it is almost a technical term and it is not a buzz word, but it strikes to the core of the magazine business (because the money flow is and should be periodical) and to heart of the reading experience (because the happy reader will return — to the next issue). At Exact Editions we believe that the periodical nature of the magazine business is fundamental and our digital solutions aim to unlock this potential. Exact Editions apps are unusual in supporting arbitrarily large archives and offering search across all back issues for each magazine subscription that a consumer takes on board. This we can call Reading Deep. Nobody says that you have to read the whole of a magazine, and when you get a complete magazine, including all its back issues, in your subscription, there may be more of it available than you can read. But it is all there and it can all be searched, and this brings the consumer a new kind of digital reading experience.

 

We do not claim that Reading Deep, through which subscribers have access to all available issues and Complete Archives, right back to issue 1,  are the ideal solution for all magazines. Nor do we think that there will, or should be, one dominant platform for reading all magazines, but we do think that magazine publishers are in many cases sitting on a treasure trove that they have yet to unlock. So we were pleased to see the new CEO of Time Inc UK has also got the archive bug:

(Marcus Rich) has been spending a lot of time buried in the company’s vast archives looking through comics. His rummaging isn’t driven by nostalgia, but by a belief that the key to Time Inc’s future could lie at least partly in the past.

“Downstairs we have this unbelievable archive of titles, some dating back to the 1800s. I’ve been down there on numerous occasions,”

“So Tiger and Jag, Valiant, characters like Sexton Blake and Billy Bunter. There is a lot of substance in that archive and I’ve been looking at opportunities with new technology to bring some of that content to market in different ways. I am fascinated about the value of content, new and old alike.”  Guardian: Interview with Time Inc UK’s Marcus Rich 

 

This summer we have announced the completion of several brilliant archives, including African Business and The World of Fine Wine. More are coming.

 

 

 

 

Antique Collecting Digital Edition now available!

Antique collecting is now available to download as an app or online.

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A British publication for general collectors and enthusiasts, Antique Collecting offers insight into a wide range of antiques, from art to museum pieces to everyday objects.

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Each issue also features information about forthcoming auctions, fairs and exhibition news. A must have for antique enthusiasts! Click here to subscribe.

Available-on-App-Store

Following Apple’s News App

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African Business complete archive from 1982 (375 issues).

In the light of Apple’s announcement of a new News app, and the soon to be disappeared iTunes Newsstand, what are newspaper and magazine publishers going to make of Apple’s platform?

Obviously we should pay attention. But the next few steps are not crystal clear. Partly because the Apple News app has not yet been released (it is coming this Autumn) but partly because there may yet be another shoe to drop. In fact it is highly likely that there will be another shoe dropping. Assuming that Apple News is quite a big success — then Apple would be very likely to extend the scope of the new format that is being introduced for the system. Apple News Format will surely be able to power paid for magazine apps, and we haven’t been told anything about that yet.

Speculating about what Apple might do next, is in this case rather futile, because it will very much depend on how the market reacts to the launch and extended use of the News app. By the end of the year we might have a good feel for that. But there are still some lessons to be drawn.

First and foremost the existing apps in Newsstand still work, and they will shortly be available directly from the iTunes app store without being shepherded into their own corner of the e-commerce system. For the last year Newsstand has looked and felt curiously disconnected from the rest of the app experience. So doing without Newsstand sounds promising for publishers that already have apps for iOS. For the moment, just keep on steaming.

Will the new Apple News Format and the RSS-style magazine/news experiences that it produces be the only way of delivering newspaper and magazine content? Not at all:

  1. The Apple News Format is expected to be proprietary and may not for this reason be an ideal choice for technical, medical, scientific and scholarly publications. If it really turns out to be like Flipboard, it may be better for flipping through illustrations taken from newspapers and magazines than for long form reading.
  2. Many magazines and some newspapers have a specific print format that is greatly appreciated by their audience. There will be a case for maintaining loyal subscribers who like the way ‘the paper has always been’.
  3. Some magazines lucky have an archive of back issues which may be as valuable to the audience and the community served by the magazine, as the ‘weekly’ or ‘monthly’ news element. Content-rich magazines should exploit their archive — which may have great appeal to universities and  corporate libraries. Exact Editions can help publishers make complete archives and we deliver institutional sales to corporates and universities. Interested in making your magazine archive? Here is a guide to the next step.
  4. There are readers on other platforms than iOS: clearly Android is an important market, but the web also is a valuable section of the overall digital magazine market.
  5. Give your print readers a clear path to digital subscriptions. If the magazine is being produced for a print audience, this audience is gradually going to transfer its reading habits to digital formats, and publishers should  support this transition with their digital apps, ideally supplied to subscribers gratis (to keep them onside), but also to demonstrate the value in the archive (see 3 above)

Magazines and newspapers that transition to a substantial digital audience will do so by growing all their available sales channels as tenaciously as they can. This means catching your digital readers as soon as possible and providing them with the best available solutions, whether they be reading on the web, on iOS devices or on Android.

We are looking forward to seeing how Apple’s News app works, and about one thing we are very confident at Exact Editions: magazines with rich content and valuable back issues really need to capture the quality in their archives. This rich inheritance becomes much more attractive when it can be fully accessed and searched on an iPad or a similar tablet device. We have just completed a full archive for the wonderful World of Fine Wine. No wine lover should be without this fine resource which contains some of the best wine writing over a wide field.

FineWine

 

 

Apple’s new News app

One of the high points of Mondays’ WWDC was the first glimpse of Apple’s new app for iOS. News which Apple see as being one of the fundamental experiences to living on a mobile device

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Susan Prescott presenting News at WWDC 2015

News is not yet released, but from first impressions it looks very similar in concept to Flipboard. Flipboard was launched back in 2010, for the iPad, and has attracted much admiration for presenting magazine-type content in a rich and fluid way on iOS devices and now for Android. But the business model for this ambitious company has always been sketchy at best. There has been talk of subscriptions and some exploratory efforts to generate high quality advertising, but the app and the company has not reached take-off point. The Apple announcement may be a nail in the coffin for Flipboard.

The business model for Apple’s News is not so clear, and my initial reaction was to wonder why Apple would want to push a business proposition that seemed to be stalling at the starting gate with Flipboard? But from the preliminary announcement it appears that the News app will work for publishers in much the same way as Facebook’s recent announcement for Instant Articles. The app will be ad-supported and the ‘offer’ to the publishers looks just like Facebook’s “generous” proposal for Instant Articles: 100% of the revenue to the publisher if they source the ad, and 70% if they use the on-platform ad solution. This will work quite nicely for publishers if they can set up similar workflow streams for Facebook and Apple’s News app. But the question will be whether there is really sufficient volume in these channels to suit mainstream publishers such as Conde Nast and the New York Times. These additional advertising deals may be more attractive to mainstream bloggers (Daring Fireball was mentioned directly by Susan Prescott in her presentation).

Facebook’s project is far too new to be a useful benchmark, and the News app has not been launched. Both Apple and Facebook may find that traditional publishers are quite slow to adopt the format toolset that will be needed to get the best designed experiences onto the devices. Apple have announced an Apple News Format — but big as Apple are, another proprietary content format looks like a possible dead end (I did not write “Flash”at that point, but it crossed my mind).

We shall see how News works out when iOS 9 is launched in the Autumn. If it goes really well, my guess is that it will be a powerful competitor to Google News. I use Google News a lot and it is a great service, but it does now feel a tad tired and ‘old school;. Too flat and too linky — without the flexibility and visual pazazz that we now expect in the best apps. From the Apple point of view, trumping Google News makes a lot of sense (much of this WWDC was about besting Google). For as Federighi said in his introductory remarks, a good display of the changing news is one of the “fundamental experiences to living on a mobile device”. I like his choice of preposition.

Apple also announced that its iOS Newsstand will shortly drop from sight.Some newspaper and magazine publishers have already been dropping their apps directly into the main app store, not wishing to be coralled in a section that has been neglected since iOS 7.  In our next blog we will take a look at how this will work for magazines that want to sell subscriptions on iOS devices.