How Not to Release a Digital Magazine

So I was at the Publishing Expo last week. It was an interesting conference and I learned a lot. There were a lot of great sessions, and bunches of clever presenters. But this post isn't about what went right; it's about people's mistakes, and I found 7 of them.

If you look at this page, you'll find the conference program as well as the show guide. The Publishing Expo gave us the wonderful opportunity to do a side by side comparison of 7 different digital magazine formats: Texterity, PageSuite, BlueToad, Nxtbook, Yudu, TurnPage, and Zinio.  Each of the tech companies was given a copy of the show guide (probably in PDF), and they wrapped their software around it. Unfortunately, they didn't do anything more than wrap the software and _that_ was the mistake. They were given a chance to show off what their software could do, and all they did was display a PDF. Whoop-te-do. Adobe Reader did that already.

How would I have handled it? For starters, I would have offered a mobile option.  All of the offered formats require a big monitor; they did not work well on my 12" laptop, and there's no chance that they would work on an iPhone (no Flash support). I also would have done more with pop up windows. For example, on the pages with the session descriptions, you could show only the session title and presenter. If someone wants more info, they could click on it and a window would pop up with the session description. How about linking the sponsors logos to a company blurb (or their website)?

All of these companies missed out on an excellent opportunity to pitch their product, and they blew it. They had not just a captive audience, but one made of potential business partners.

About Nate Hoffelder (11213 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

2 Comments on How Not to Release a Digital Magazine

  1. Hi Nate,

    Thanks for mentioning Nxtbook and I’m glad you enjoyed the show… definitely a lot of great info, there and we were proud to sponsor.

    I think your criticism about not optimizing the show guides is well taken. You’re right: digital magazine companies like us should use these opportunities to show off our platforms and we usually do. See this review of multiple platforms:

    However, one of the other advantages of our platform is the ability to know how popular different promotions are. In previous years, we have optimized the Publishing Expo show guide, but very few people actually ended up reading it. Coupled with the fact that the PDF wasn’t delivered to us until just before the show (rather than well in advance), we knew activity would be little, so we didn’t take the time to optimize it.

    Secondly, you’re very mistaken in your comments about the iPhone versions. Just because a digital magazine company offers a Flash version on computers doesn’t mean they don’t have an iPhone or Android compatible non-Flash version. We do, and it’s enabled on this guide. It’s the exact same URL and depending on the device accessing the book, it serves up the right version.

    Truth is, I’m not just talking about Nxtbook here. About half of the companies on the page have iPhone versions, as well, though I don’t know if they built them for this guide.

    Having a Flash solution doesn’t mean companies can’t be on the iPhone. Whether you’re Nxtbook or Disney or Nike (which also have Flash websites), you just need to be prepared when people pull up your content from the other devices.


    Marcus Grimm
    Marketing Director
    Nxtbook Media

  2. Hi Nate,

    Appreciate your comments and hope you enjoyed the show – you should have stopped by for a full demo! Thanks for including us in your article and understand your feedback.

    We could have processed a more interactive edition, even given the limited time given, but readership of all versions is low and we wanted to demonstrate our product to the fullest at the Expo.

    As for content on an iPhone – our most successful publisher app generates over 50,000 visits each day and has generated over 150,000 downloads. The average user reads the publication (a daily) for 12 minutes (e-editions av. @4mins) , consuming av. 16 pages, 90% time specific & 98% geo-targeted. That demonstrates solid readership – the company has now signed a huge deal with an ad agency to monetize that too – all about ROI.

    You do now have one extra viewer, enjoyed your iPad ad pricing article today. I have bookmarked and will be looking out for more insight…

    Kind Regards,

    Ben Edwards – PageSuite

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