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Two Become One: How Magazines Will Ape Their Apps

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In a reversal of today’s content publishing model, print magazines pretty soon could start looking a lot like their app equivalents.

“The next redesign of our titles will see them redesigned with our tablet versions in mind,” magazine publisher Future’s tablet editor-in-chief Mike Goldsmith told an industry forum this month.

As publishers extend their print titles to iPad, they can choose either to repurpose the paper originals, which can seem lazy and ill-suited to the touch screen, or to custom-produce interactive apps with a native interface in mind, which is expensive.

If he did that for Future’s 60+ titles, he would “bankrupt the company”, Future’s Goldsmith said. So, today, only three Future titles have the shiny iPad treatment.

But re-imagining today’s disparate print and tablet production workflows in lock-step from the start, making tablet requirements less of an extension, could cut costs. And that could make it feasible for publishers to out their entire portfolio as full iPad editions, as well as in their core printed form.

Already, one Future title, Tap!, is sized to match iPad dimensions. That was a no-brainer (after all, Tap! is all about apps). But many other magazines, too, are now published in a secondary, miniature form factor that increasingly references the tablet’s own.

And upcoming revisions at Future will borrow further stylistic conventions, as a recent iPad-inspired refresh to Future’s flagship gadget magazine T3 suggests. T3 has begun conceiving some editorial in fragments – swiped through on screen to satisfy readers’ fingers, as well as broken up in short, boxy segments in print. Nowadays, print must satisfy the shorter attention spans of a generation hooked on fragmented and intimate, tactile engagement.

This ironic repurposing of apps back in to print could, in time, significantly re-shape the discipline of magazine design. But that’s something many readers may now be ready for. So potent is the agency users feel when controlling their screen with their fingers, growing numbers of them are catching themselves pinch-zooming a printed leaf in the expectation of interaction.

Other publishers are approaching the same possible solution, but weighing up factors. “Tablet engagement metrics almost perfectly mirror what you see in magazines,” Hearst president David Carey tells paidContent. “We’re looking to do tablet and magazine as efficiently as possible.

“How much interactivity and enhancement is right for the reader? In the first wave of devices, every page had something (interactive). That got a little tiresome. So we’re looking to find the right balance. If they (Future) are trying to design their magazine to fit this screen, those are pretty dramatic differences.”

5 Responses to “Two Become One: How Magazines Will Ape Their Apps”

  1. joe sixpack

    sites redesigning for mobile devices are helping people who have small screens on their pcs.  not everybody has a superwide monitor.
    one pub that i subscribe to finally stopped laying it out with two columns that does not work well on a pc even if it mirrored their print pub.

  2. At Ants Media Group we think video content will make print apps more interesting. If someone is paying £4.99 per month (or whatever) for ‘traditional publishers apps’ on tablets, then they want more than repurposed print that ‘zooms in a little bit’ – well I do anyway !

    Time for publishers to get out their wallets and start spending on the production of decent video content to go into their apps. A no brainer really.

  3. At Ready-Media, we don’t think publishers should have to sacrifice design based on media… that’s why we make responsive technology built on world-class design and 21st-century methodology that streamlines content creation and distribution to diverse media–from print to web to tablets and to mobile, your publications and branding are consistent. No need to re-purpose or re-arrange. Check us out:

  4. David Hicks

    Indeed. An interesting argument from Hearst. We consider every page and even sidebar on T3 iPad Edition. Its been a steep learning curve but the production process will evolve further still. Try, and learn has been our philosophy from the start.

    Mobiles will come and are already in our thinking.