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.
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.