Aside

E-Magazines and the “bog, bus and bath test.”

Exact Editions has launched a website selling subscriptions to "e-editions" of various paper magazines. Titles include: The Spectator, Dazed & Confused and err…Kite World.

There’s nothing innovative going on here. The e-versions are just copies of the paper editions. It’s just normally cheaper to subscribe to the e-version. A paper subscription to Press Gazette costs around £100 a year, the e-version is half the price.

Exact Editions states: "Exact Editions is bringing magazines into the digital age. It turns out that if
you treat them right, magazines work fine on the web pretty much exactly the way they
are."
Unfortunately, it seems few publishers really understand how to "treat" e-mags "right".

The Guardian (with G24) and Dennis Publishing (Monkey Magazine) have been brave and done something a little different. It may not be "right", but at least its not just chucking your paper edition online.

1) G24: This includes the very latest breaking stories from the Guardian (there’s an excellent media edition). You print the PDF at the office and read it on the train on the way home. You’ve got something to read  when it’s cold, late, and all the London Lite sellers have buggered off. Result!

2) Monkey Magazine: Dubbed "Nuts magazine for the MySpace generation", it’s celebrating its tenth issue this week. The idea is sound in theory –  you can make a sexy looking magazine with absolutely no budget.

What’s good about Monkey:
It attracts interesting interactive advertising cutting edge youth brands, such as Lynx. The editor gets to know precisely what people read (that’s the ‘great unknown’ in paper publishing). Monkey seems to be learning what works and what doesn’t. The latest issue has ditched the Q&A interviews with porn stars – people just don’t read large amounts of text online. But this leads me on to… 

What’s bad about Monkey
The interviews have gone, so it really is just  "page" after "page" of video clips. A lot of the clips seem to have been pinched from places like YouTube and m90.org. God knows how the copyright lawyers deal with that.

If you’re into that kind of thing (and who isn’t), wouldn’t you just hang out at YouTube?

I still find Ceros to be clunky (Ceros is the e-edition technology used by Dennis). Where in the navigation bar does it allow you to zoom out? Why does Firefox always crash? Ceros suffers poor usability.

The ultimate problem with Monkey
It’s a lads’ magazine that fails the 3B Test –  you can’t read it on the "Bog, Bus or in the Bath". I would be more interested if it could be downloaded to a Palm or iPaq.

To conclude, it’s probably possible to get e-magazines right. But magazines, like paperback books, are pretty convenient after all.

Links:

You can find part 1 of my  Monkey comment here

Trusted Reviews – Very detailed review. This bloke reckons Monkey is very "Web2.0" –  not sure I agree.  But it’s a detailed and generally supportive review of the user experience.

lyingonthecovers – very interesting blog by a Ceros developer. 

One Response to E-Magazines and the “bog, bus and bath test.”

  1. Dominic Duffy February 18, 2007 at 3:23 pm #

    Firstly I’d best declare a personal interest in Ceros for the sake of transparency. I’m MD of the company that created the system. Ceros was designed in consultatiuon with a number of the UK’s top publishing houses. Without going into detail that might play into the hands of our technical pretenders, the interface has been one of the key reasons Ceros is currently the market leader.
    It has been designed to appeal to the Web 2.0 generation and by association, should not require unecessary buttons or icons by virtue of being intuitive. Certainly, the focus groups have agreed that this is the case. The zoom function is therefore triggered simply by clicking in/clicking out. Do also bear in mind that the system also has contextual search, PDF download and print functionality – the availability of which is determined by title by the content owner (publisher). There is also an API for developers and statistical back-end that logs everything including inside-leg measurement.
    Please take a second look at the interface. I realy think ‘clunky’ is far from applicable.
    Also, take a look at http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/search/index.cfm?fuseaction=details&nNewsID=632401 and http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/search/index.cfm?fuseaction=details&nNewsID=632393