Engadget Goes Old Media (Sort Of) With Distro Magazine…For Tablets Only

There may still be a good number of magazines that are turning away from the magazine format to focus more on their website distribution. But there seem to also be a growing number of blogs that are increasingly turning to the magazine format to push long-form content, using the growth in tablet usage as their driver. The latest comes from one of the leading gadget and tech blogs, AOL’s Engadget, which has announced a new tablet magazine, Distro.

Distro will come out weekly and will be composed of a selection of Engadget’s long-form features and reviews over that period — pieces that may otherwise get less traffic on the main site amid the noise of short breaking news items and posts based on links to other sites.

Engadget editor Tim Stevens writes that the blog has employed separate designers and editors to work on the title, although it’s not clear if that will mean any original content in addition to the re-purposed work.

He also notes that the first edition of Distro will — unsurprisingly, given its dominance of the tablet market — be made for Apple’s iPad, but it is also working on formats for other platforms. That will likely include Android, Windows 8 and maybe even WebOS. Launch date is “soon”, writes Stevens.

Distro looks like it will follow Engadget’s online business model: that is, it will be free. That will help it attract more readers, which will ultimately help with advertising revenues. The magazine will also be a chance for AOL (NYSE: AOL) to test out how its blogs might translate into different platforms to give the content a bit more mileage (thereby increasing the potential to sell ads against it).

As a side-note, and in no way related to how readable or interesting the new magazine might be, Engadget chose a clever name in Distro, in that it covers not only what the magazine is, but some elements of the tech community that it is targeting. According to Wikipedia, “Distro may refer to:

Linux distribution, a specific vendor’s package of the GNU/Linux operating system
Software distro, a set of software components (i.e. open source components) assembled into a working whole and distributed to a user community.
Power distributor, a high performance power distributor, designed specifically for theatre / live concert use.
A zine distribution service”

Distro is not the first magazine to be borne of a blog.

Tablets have been a route for independents to increase their audience: these have included C Mode from the fashion blogger Caroline Blomst, as well Technode from Anorak Publishing.

And AOL itself has been dabbling in ways of delivering content via iPad “magazines” — specifically with its Editions app, which works as a Flipboard-like service aggregating content from various AOL online properties.