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Could Digital Magazines Become Mini-Movies?

by Sean P. Aune | March 23, 2010March 23, 2010 8:47 pm PDT

Everyone and their brother was blown away last week when Viv magazine debuted its concept digital magazine.  It looked like the Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller film Sin City had come to an iPad, and you were going to get to read all about people’s inner most sex fears!  However, we need to remember that this was a “concept” digital magazine, and just like all those nifty concept cars you see pictures of after every auto show, you have to remember we very rarely ever see them at our local dealership.

ipad magazinesThere is no doubt that magazine publishers are working slavishly over ways to translate their dead tree format monthly creations into an enjoyable digital experience.  They’ve said as much, and we know that if they don’t, they are going to go the way of the dinosaurs.  So the raging question has been is how the publishers can recreate the magazine experience on a digital device so that is usable and enjoyable.

Well, here’s your first clue, it isn’t copying the style of motion comic books for one thing.

There is no question that what Viv did was impressive, and a fun thing to look at, but do you really want flicking lights behind your text as you try to read?  (Look at the text around the 29 second mark in the above video)  Sure it’s subtle, but I can also see how it might distract some readers.  Not to mention some of the odd angles the text is presented at.  Yes, on the iPad you can lock the screen rotation and move the device around as you see fit, but how often have you had to do something like that when reading a print copy?

What about the second time you go to read an article, or you put it down to finish it later?  Are you really going to want to have to go through video footage a second time?

Then comes the publisher side of things.  Producing this sort of video every single month wouldn’t be cheap, and since digital is supposed to be a way for everyone to save money, why add those costs to your bottom line?  Not to mention the increase in lead times.  Your articles will have to be “evergreen” subjects so that the subject doesn’t grow stale while you shoot more video for the download copy.

This was a pretty experiment to look at, but that’s about it.  There are too many negatives for both the reader and the publisher to really make this a practical idea every month.  Call me old fashioned if you must, but I would be perfectly happy with a two-page layout that I “flip” the pages of and can zoom in on sections if I so desire.  Boring?  Sure it is, but it’s worked for decades now, why reinvent the wheel?

What do you think?  Should digital magazines get all fancy just because they can, or is it more about the content than the experience?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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