December – the month the indie publishers crashed the iPad – Hoodgrown, Trvl and Pies

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The cost of producing a magazine on the iPad used to be prohibitively high for indie publishers. I say ‘used to be’ because it really isn’t any more. Over the last few months we have seen the arrival of a series of solutions which now mean that anyone with great content (and a few quid) can publish to the Apple gagdet.

December has seen the arrival of two high profile indie mags on the iPad plus the growth of a rather special travel magazine from Holland.

Urban culture mag Hoodgrown launched its first issue a couple of weeks ago and it really is a unqualified success. The mag uses the Golden Alligator platform – which is ideal for smaller publishers who may not have easy access to designers – and has some great features and interviews accompanied by audio and video. It lacks some of the interactive elements of more high profile launches, but IMO that’s a smart move as it makes the mag easy to read. The mag is free and funded by advertising. A video showing the mag in action is below.

Another notable iPad start up is a Dutch company called Trvl http://www.trvlzine.com/ which is producing very neat magazinettes that focus on a part of the world. The mags, which are free to download via Trvl on the iPad store, are image focused with a feature or two. The photography is at times breath-taking.

Finally, a bit closer to home, the UK’s leading sports blog Who Ate All the Pies is now available as 48 page digital and print magazine. It was my idea to produce the mag, but Ollie and Mike can take the credit for some superb features and its rather lovely design.

It was produced as an experiment, and three days after launch I can report that it has been a very real success. The mag is available in a printed version via HP’s excellent start up Magcloud. It is also available as an iPad mag through the Magcloud iPad store too. We have also made the mag available as a PDF which sells for £1 – more info on the mag and how to get it is here http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/feature/59849/pies-launches-new-football-magaz…

I think offering the magazine in a number of formats is clearly the way forward. I guess that in the future the tablet PC version will become the main distribution source for the mag, though I think PDFs and having a printed version gives the mag reach as well as enabling people to read the title in the format they are most comfortable with.

So is there a business model emerging? Absolutely. I think it is about offering the content for a small fee on iPad or PDF. Unless the title gets a sponsor and then the mag is free on all formats except print. It is a fantastic opportunity for a sponsor – not only are they the only brand in the issue, but the mag’s regular readers will know that if it weren’t for Brand X then they would be paying to read it. Also digital mags offer a really great platform for proper brand integration, something which has got kind of lost in the rush to produce flashy graphics and interactive videos.

Also I think having to wade through pages of ads – Conde Naste style – is archaic and unacceptable. I know CN have to recoup their investment, but in the future I think readers will see endless ads as devaluing their reading experience.

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