Summary:

Magazine publishers were already beginning to imagine how tablet devices might reboot their fortunes long before the April 3 retail date for…

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Magazine publishers were already beginning to imagine how tablet devices might reboot their fortunes long before the April 3 retail date for Apple’s iPad.

Such gadgets promise a new wave of tablet magazines. But it’s early days – our trawl of 15 examples includes many that are merely concepts – so consider them preferred bets, from show-off publishers, on what the magazine might become.

While each takes advantage of the touch screen to, at the least, replicate the tactile experience of flicking through a magazine, visions for the digital mag vary somewhat, coalescing around five key trends…

  • Print shovelware: Those that merely recreate the page-turning experience on the digital screen.
  • Interactive editions: They’re recognisably a magazine, but navigation and animation really take advantage of what is essentially a screen.
  • Motion-heavy mags: Co-produced by film makers, they’re as much a video narrative as a magazine.
  • Web shells: Lazy apps that merely funnel through a publication’s existing website.
  • Live info: Divorced from monthly print cycle, an article can take advantage of the real-time web.

What’s clear is that, built on a tablet that can run apps, a magazine can be as radical as its individual software platform affords. If no standard for interaction and navigation emerges, it’s possible that every other digital magazine will work differently.

But re-envisioning the magazine likely won’t be cheap. While some of the fancier interactive ideas can be commissioned at an acceptable one-off cost, sustaining such production values on a monthly basis would likely command a bigger budget – many of these concepts will require a whole new production skillset.

And publishers beware: consumers are interested in buying iPad more for browsing the web than for either reading magazines or downloading apps, according to comScore.

Read on to find out who’s doing what…

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