Analysis

Are Digital Magazine Apps A Stepping-Stone to Paid Content?

Peter Houston revisits the world of digital magazines for Publishing Executive

The conventional wisdom on digital magazines is that they’re dead, at least as a custom format, separate from print and enhanced for the tablet or phone.

Apple often gets the blame – killing Newsstand killed digital magazines. But the shuttering of Apple’s standalone magazine space, as awful as it always was, was a symptom not a cause. Excessive production costs and audience apathy killed the generation of magazine apps inspired by the launch of the iPad.

I got my first glimpse of what was in store for digital magazine apps in 2015 at a ‘How to create a successful digital magazine’ evening course I hosted in London. Conde Nast digital designer Liam Keating dedicated his 30-minute slot to tips on radically streamlining workflow. Liam went on to spend the last days of his tenure at Conde Nast successfully automating custom design out of digital magazines and now works as a designer for Volvo in Sweden.

It’s easy to see the templating of digital editions as the beginning of the end – sophisticated magazine apps became unevolved digital replicas or responsive repurposing websites. But there are signs of life at the replica end of the digital magazine spectrum.

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