Buyer's Guide: How to Choose the Right Digital Magazine, CMS & DAM Vendor
This article is from the Publishing Executive Buyer's Guide which is a publisher's reference on emerging technology in the media industry. You can find other Buyer's Guide Sections here:
Implementing a viable digital publishing strategy requires a successful combination of relatively unfamiliar technologies, mostly from outside service providers. This section will help publishers find the right partners for creating and managing multi-channel content, and for storing the images and other assets used by both editorial and advertising workflows.
Digital Publishing on Tablets and Smartphones
Publishing magazine content on the web is not new, nor is the practice of creating digital facsimiles or replicas of print editions. Many vendors in this guide do exactly that. What is relatively new is the process of publishing content on mobile tablets and smartphones. This is done in two ways. One is to create an application or "app" for Apple's iOS, Google's Android, or other mobile operating systems. The other is to create a mobile-friendly website, using HTML5 and CSS 3, for use on any browser -- including those on iOS and Android devices.
There are several options for creating a native tablet app edition, which have been defined in the MPA's tablet metrics definitions.
- The easiest option is to send existing print PDFs to a cloud-based service provider, who typically converts these into non-Flash-based replica editions, activating hyperlinks and sometimes adding other interactive enhancements. The MPA refers to these as SFP ("Straight From Print") and SFP+ editions.
- Another approach is to use existing page layout or website production to build interactive digital editions. These often use familiar software (InDesign or QuarkXPress) and a cloud-based service to generate enhanced content -- appropriately termed EFT ("Enhanced For Tablet") by the MPA.
- The most advanced but often expensive approach is to design and produce app or website content specifically for tablet or smartphone use. This approach -- DFT ("Designed For Tablet") -- can use content from the print edition, but is a completely new digital product, providing greater access to a device's camera and other built-in features.
Many providers of SFP+ and EFT editions also offer an HTML5 reader option, allowing publishers to move from native app to browser-based content, which can be especially helpful on smartphones or smaller-screen tablets. Some companies do all the conversion and adding of interactive elements, while others provide online or desktop plugin tools for publishers to create their own product. Almost all offer cloud-based distribution to digital newsstands or, in the case of HTML5 browser content, integration with existing Web hosting.
John Parsons (firstname.lastname@example.org), former Editorial Director of The Seybold Report, is an independent writer, ghostwriter, and editor. He is the co-author of the interactive printed textbook, Introduction to Graphic Communication, on the art, science and business of print, which has been adopted by Ryerson, Arizona State, the University of Houston, and many other schools and vocational training centers. Custom editions of the book are under consideration by major printing companies and franchises for internal training purposes.