- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On February 19, 2016
- Digital magazines
Over the last couple of months I’ve been researching our next generation platform for producing digital magazines. Everyone knows what a magazine is so producing a digital one should be a pretty simple exercise.
In fact figuring out what a digital magazine is is making me feel surprisingly like Alice in Wonderland. The world of digital magazines is much curiouser than I imagined when I first headed down this “rabbit hole.”
Just like the white rabbit, I’m often in a rush as I have customers waiting. I’m sure your land is full of “important dates” too so if you’d like to know about digital magazines I thought I’d save you some time by recounting my findings so far in ”digital magazine wonderland”.
The first creature you will encounter in “digital magazine wonderland” is the “flipbook”.
We’ve been using flipbooks for a long time now (you can see most of our magazines implemented as flipbooks here.)
Our “flipbooks” on Issuu.com
Flipbooks have several features that make them more appealing to the reader than a PDF. The most obvious one is an animated page turn. The pages feel like your turning a paper page when you click on them. Pages are often displayed as a spread, which is great for image-heavy magazines, like many of ours.
These features are nice but a flipbook is basically a print magazine made available on your computer or tablet. Flipbooks are not designed for your digital device from scratch and so don’t really maximize the potential of the digital medium.
But if you don’t know where to go with digital magazines, flipbooks are a good place to start (or so the Cheshire Cat told me.)
2. Should I drink from the app bottle?
The Tweedledum and Tweedledee of “digital magazine wonderland” are apps and web editions.
You see you can view a digital magazine either through a web browser (so the magazine that be viewed this way is often called a web edition) or you can download it as an app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play.
Magazine apps on the App Store
Being more like the white rabbit and always in a rush, I decided to focus on the web edition approach. After all who has three minutes to download an app just to read a magazine?
But as I journeyed down the web edition road things became curiouser and curiouser. I found that most publishers used apps for their digital magazines not web editions.
3. Videos and animations, different creatures indeed
I learned that whether you make your digital magazine an app or a web edition, adding video is fairly simple; however adding animation is a much more maddening proposition.
Our first approach to a web edition involved creating animations in video files. But this did not work well.
It turns out that Apple and Google (essentially the King and Queen of Hearts of “digital magazine wonderland”) have decreed that auto playing video on mobile devices (phones and tablets) is against the law of wonderland (and could lead to losing your head.) You see playing video files can use up a reader’s cellular data plan and so the user must hit the “play” button to watch a video.
4. When is a website a magazine?
Other inhabitants of “digital magazine wonderland” are websites and blogs. At first this seems strange but in course you will see that this makes perfect sense.
Many “new media companies” say their websites are magazines. Websites are great in that they can be viewed through a web browser and can be made responsive for mobile devices. But do they really capture the magazine experience? It’s certainly a riddle.
I’m still making my way around “digital magazine wonderland” and I will have an update for you soon. In the meantime, if you’re not sure how to approach digital magazine publishing ‘Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’ (The King of Hearts told me this.) Or simply email me here and we can discuss it.
And if you like Johnny Depp, the Alice Through the Looking Glass movie is coming out in May.