Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pristine Praise

Pristine Classical (the world's leading historic recordings site) have written up the experience of using Gramophone magazine on the Exact Editions platform. The full editorial is here, and we quote an extract in which Andrew Rose explains how the iTunes Newsstand interface, and the Exact Editions digital magazine platform works for him:

The iPad's news stand is a simple little app that Apple have recently built into the operating system. When you first touch it an empty set of shelves open up on the screen, just begging to be filled with reading matter. Fortunately there's a handy button to take you straight to the news store, where you can buy individual issues or full subscriptions to a variety of magazines and newspapers from around the world. Once you've bought one of these (and most offer a free trial issue to get you started) the magazine cover appears on your shelf.

Actually the shelf thing is a brilliant bit of nudge-marketing that really makes you want to fill its empty shelves, and so now I have four publications sitting there ready to read, including Gramophone at an annual subscription price which was around half the usual international rate. My daily paper - for which I now have the iPad subscription - is delivered as if by magic overnight while the iPad is asleep, ready to read when I get up in the morning. My Gramophone turns up on time every month. And because of the nature of my Gramophone subscription I can also read the same content on my web browser on any PC, and - at last! - copy and paste Rob Cowan's reviews directly into this newsletter rather than either scanning the text or retyping it. I've also been gifted every back issue going back to August 2010...

So as a user what's it like? Well, what you see is what you'd get with the print edition - every page in full colour (including all the ads). When you hold your iPad vertically the screen holds a full page, when you hold it horizontally it spins around to fill the width of the screen, making the writing bigger but requiring you to scroll the page down to read the full text, something that can be a bit of a nuisance is a story runs along a number of columns. In the vertical view this isn't an issue though the text can be a little on the small side - but then you can quickly and easily pinch and unpinch the screen to change your level of zoom, thereby resizing the text to suit both you and the page layout. The contents page has coloured links over the page numbers, allowing you to jump straight to an article, and you can also run a text search across the entire issue - which is how I know for sure that there are four instances of the word 'Pristine' in November's issue, of which three refer to us. There's also a little "page flick" button, enabling quick "flicking" through thumbnail representation of the pages, a button that takes you straight back to the contents page, and one other control button, which switches to a two-page view, for those with better eyesight than me! All in all it looks good, it's easy to read, it turns up on time, and it's saved me money and shelf space. What's not to like? (Pristine Classical Newsletter November 2011)

Rose goes on to explore the advantages and the options for independent music publishers who might want to sell magazines through iTunes. His view "And if you happen to be a magazine publisher who thinks this isn't for you, you really must read on..."

It intrigued me that this very positive review of the process of transferring well designed and graphically rich magazines to a digital medium should have come from someone with deep expertise in the business of transferring digital sound to online media. Maintaining the fidelity and the richness of the print experience is still a real challenge. As is the problem of fidelity and authenticity in sound recordings. The review is also timely since this week Exact Editions is now unveiling a portal through which publishers can explore for themselves the digital services that can enable magazines to achieve the best digital quality and access that we can provide. Magazine publishers who think that Andrew Rose may be on to something should turn their browsers to and upload an issue of their magazine to conduct private trials with the platform whilst they consider the solutions proposed for their magazine. Either as a web edition, as a complementary service for print subscribers, an app solution for iOS or Android. And for many magazines all of those options will make sense.

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