It's been a long time (15+ months) since the early, heady days of iPad ownership. One of my primary goals was to have a device that could replace my pile of magazines, books, and papers, and the briefcase that I used to tote them around wherever I went. The reading experience of the iPad requires you to hold the heavier than magazine device or prop it on a case or stand. Its illumination eases reading at night, but the screen glare makes daytime reading difficult in full sun. And, did I mention I can take my entire current reading library with me wherever I go?
Now, finally, that seems to be a realized dream. Apple and the Publishers have apparently found a middle ground in their financial and data ownership disputes, resulting in a flood of magazine titles, prices, subscription options, and formats arriving on the iPad. Not everything is ideal, and sometimes the thicket of choices is almost overwhelming. But, I've been trying it all out, so it's time to summarize.
Initially, the promise of magazines was not realized in a cost effective fashion. There was a special issue of Time, and a few titles like Wired and Sports Illustrated that were only available at single-issue prices, as at a newsstand. The hoped-for New Yorker was nowhere in sight. The Zinio app provided access to some digital titles more or less in facsimile form, like PC Magazine, which had gone all-digital in 2009. The GoodReader app provided access to any title that could be downloaded as a PDF, such as CPU Magazine, or CACM, but the PDF reading experience is less than stellar. Zinio teamed with Sporting News Today to produce a custom app & front end to their usual reader, which was nice when following the World Cup 2010 and March Madness. A subscription for $2.99 a month (10 cents a day!) was nice, too.
Last October, the single-copy versions of New Yorker arrived! But, still no subscription. $4.99 an issue, when I already subscribed to the print and had access to the digital web archive was still no go. The reader for the app, and many others from Conde Nast, all have a unified interface, using Adobe Digital Publishing software. Time-Life uses a package called WoodWing to augment Adobe InDesign.
Zinio has it's own interface, just updated to 2.0, and there are other platforms such as Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Nobles's Nook, and PixelMags, that incorporate iPad readers and interfaces. Many magazines have their own browser-based digital navigation, like Playboy and ACM. A few, such as Popular Science have built their own unique app and style (not always successfully!). The Economist has had it's own app and subscriptions since last fall, and it is very nice. Project from Virgin Media is an iPad-only magazine.
Starting in January, New Yorker offered free access to the iPad editions to it's print subscribers. And, finally in May, iPad subscriptions were offered at a price ($59.99/year) similar to the print. So, when my print subscription expired, I signed up for the iPad edition -- no more print! It does still include access to the digital archive (all back issues to 1925) via the Web, though. Finally, save the trees!
Many publishers are now offering titles in both subscription and single issue pricing. Some provide free access to print (or "full access") subscribers. Many titles are available on multiple platforms. It is all quite confusing! So, I will list and comment on the titles and formats I've experienced.
Here are the magazines: Atlantic, Byte, CACM, Computer Power User, Consumer Reports, National Geographic, New Yorker, PC Magazine, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Project, Reader's Digest, Sporting News Today, Sports Illustrated, The Economist, Time, Utne Reader, Wired.