Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

08/05/2010

An Unsatisfying State of Digital Publishing?


One of the great features of digital publishing is it’s ability to engulf the reader in a three-dimensional world of related words, sounds and visual effects. This opportunity appears to have been missed by Rolling Stone, Apple and Zinio in the following example given by Lonnie Lazar in his article for Cult of Mac (http://www.cultofmac.com/):

Review: Apple, Rolling Stone and the Unsatisfying State of Digital Publishing

Rolling Stone‘s Special Issue of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time made its debut Tuesday on Zinio, a digital publishing platform that could spell the difference between “survive” and “thrive” for old-school media publications looking to keep the doors open in coming years.

With a stable of top-tier periodicals such as National Geographic, Esquire, American Photo, Car & Driver and many more, Zinio definitely leads the way in showing how paper publications might remain not only relevant but vital and attractive to a new generation of “readers” weaned on the sizzle and flash of gaming and 3D entertainment.

Publication is morphing into something beyond simple words and pictures, evolving into an immersive medium that both pushes ideas and information out to consumers — and draws them in with interactive features and activities that take one beyond the superficial layers of what an article or essay might seem to offer.

Thus, with such crucial stakes at hand, did Zinio, Apple and Rolling Stone produce something of a mixed scorecard with the 500 Greatest issue.
Zinio is available as a free app in the iTunes App Store (link) and supports all three of Apple’s mobile hardware devices, the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, in addition to offering cloud-based services accessible through a web browser on any computer connected to the internet.

Most magazines in the catalog can be purchased in-app by the single issue or by subscription — and these transactional nuts and bolts Zinio has down cold.

Not surprisingly, some of the more ephemeral aspects of this digital publishing game, such as delivering the content and handling the fancy interactive bells and whistles on offer, work best — and look best — on the iPad.

To begin with, the larger screen is far more suited to showcasing the visual media of traditional magazines, and the iPad’s core processor seems to deliver a faster, smoother user experience than either Zinio on the web or using the app on the smaller iPhone and iPod Touch. While the iPhone 4′s Retina Display enhances the visual experience on that device, downloading magazines on an older device is an opportunity to cultivate patience, at best.

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