The Times recently revealed a healthy increase in digital subscribers and, especially, in purchases of the iPad app. The number of people peeping behind the Times paywall rose by 7.5% between September and January, to just under 120,000. In the same period, there was a 35% increase in the number of people reading the Times on the iPad. In January there was an average of 60,000 downloads a day.
At this month’s news:rewired, as Natalie reported, the Economist’s digital editor Tom Standage said that 70% of their subscribers they expect to be reading the publication digitally within two years.
The numbers are encouraging for any hack despairing about readers lost to the internet. But, as an aspiring magazine journalist, it doesn’t surprise me when iPad apps are a success.
Magazine journalism is about packaging of information beautifully and usefully. And, it sounds shallow, but digital magazines look simply gorgeous on a glass iPad screen.
Inspired by news:rewired, I’ve been downloading more magazine apps recently. And I love them! A weighty glossy like Red is easier to dip into as a digital replica and I don’t get a pile of paper stacking up in my room, giving me ‘subscriber’s guilt’. An interactive hybrid like Attitude offers video interviews alongside the text.
iPads were MADE for magazines. We should be embracing them with open arms. And while, as Mike Goldsmith from Future Publishing suggested at news:rewired, digital replies are a great place to get started, editors should be pushing rapidly toward full interactive editions.
Instead of just a digital replica of the print magazine or a static version of the website, an interactive edition offers something completely different – better, even – than either. And who’d begrudge paying for that?
The iPad allows a designer to package information in, arguably, an even more attractive and accessible way. For example: full ‘page’ photographs that are only interrupted by explanatory text when they are clicked. Photo shoots accompanied by a ‘behind the scenes’ video. Fashion pages where the wares are directly linked to online shops where you can purchase with one click.
Which are your favourite iPad apps for magazines and newspapers? And which publishers are getting it right when it comes to developing interactive apps? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Image by Hideya Hamano