Zinio’s iPad Magazines Suggest Disappointing Future

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Zinio is a magazine store and reader for the iPad. In fact, for now, it’s the magazine store for the iPad, stocking all the biggest titles of which you can purchase one-off issues or even 12 month subscriptions.

Just like Apple with its iBookstore, Zinio has established relationships with an impressive array of publications. As such, you can expect to find enhanced editions of magazines Cosmopolitan, T3, Rolling Stone and Hello among many others. However, unlike Apple’s iBookstore or iBooks app, Zinio certainly doesn’t live up to the hype.

For starters, each page takes around a second to load. Take a moment and imagine that…imagine reading a magazine and waiting an entire second every time you decide to turn a page. Need to quickly flick back and take a glance at that article from a few pages ago? Prepare to wait.

Plus, there’s no in-app purchasing, meaning that you have to leave the app, load Safari, sign in to Zinio’s website and then make a purchase using your credit card. You can’t even use PayPal. In fact, because Zinio’s iPad site login wasn’t working for me, I ended up opening my MacBook Pro and handling the entire purchase on there.

There’s no option, that I could find, for deleting a magazine. I checked the app, the Settings app and even my account settings on Zinio’s site. This means I’m stuck with a couple of freebies: Car & Driver and a rapidly aging edition of Macworld magazine. (There’s also a free copy of National Geographic but I don’t mind keeping that as it fools me into thinking I’m cultured.)

The magazines themselves are just that, magazines. This isn’t Captain Picard’s enhanced edition of Cosmopolitan, just a run of the mill scanned magazine. And while pinch-to-zoom works, zooming in close reveals the low quality of these fuzzy digital magazines.

Any websites that are mentioned will typically have an ugly blue outline to indicate that you can open the site by tapping the text. Aside from that, you’ll be lucky to find the occasional clunky video embedded in an otherwise static page. Welcome to the future, those are your ‘enhancements’.

What worries me here is that Zinio has all the big names wrapped up, as such it might take a while for things to change. In the meantime, I feel embarrassed to use Zinio’s app, to think that this is the future of magazines on my $499 iPad — shoddy ‘enhanced’ PDFs.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Evolution of the e-Book Market

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