Frustration with magazines on the iPad

I’m convinced that the people who actually write for magazines, edit them and publish them have never actually tried using their iPad versions for more than a few moments. If they actually did try to use their publication’s app as the actual means to read each issue, things would have to improve. Right? RIGHT?!

Justin Williams tears apart GQ, Esquire and Sports Illustrated for their poor implementation on the iPad. He also offers 10 solutions magazine publishers could use to help themselves.

The iPad should be a great device for reading a magazine, but publishers take old school thinking into a new medium, and that’s just not going to work. Remember all of those subscribe cardboard ads that would fall out of your paper magazine? Publishers are looking for the digital equivalent of that.

What they will find is that many of their users will just stop downloading and subscribing.

The first rule of any business should be “don’t piss off your customers.” Many publishers are failing.



  • Tsmith3139

    You raise some very interesting points about magazines and how the old school thinking does not work on this new device. The publishers need to adapt fairly quickly if they want to thrive on this new medium.

  • Jim H

    As a counterpoint to bad magazines on the iPad, look no further than National Geographic. It definitely takes full advantage of the iPad and is a joy to read and ‘explore’. Even the Zinio supplied magazines that don’t do special formatting for iPad are better than some of these custom interfaces. They scroll quickly, are easy to zoom in if type is too small, have decent download rates, etc. Some of these others that do it poorly should really think about looking for totally different programmers, magazine engines if bought, and a good and empowered quality control process/team.

    • http://twitter.com/taylorling Taylor Ling

      Have to agree on this. My first subscription on the iPad is National Geographic and I thought they did a great job in making a digital magazine. 

      Haven’t have a chance for other magazine, but check Engadget’s Distro, I think they are great too (except they are not in Newsstand, yet)!

  • mike mainello

    I agree and not just with the iPad.  I have a Galaxy Tab 7″ screen and subscribe to National Review.  It is a pain to use and I have asked them to make a one simple change – remember my place when I put the device down – and not heard a thing back.

    This is the future if magazines want to remain relevant.

  • Anonymous

    This simply shows up inept management at the respective publishers whose magazines don’t “work” properly on tablets. It’s not rocket science.

  • http://www.picantecreative.com/slideshows/portfolio/magazines/magazine-design-portfolio.html Magazine Design

    It may very well be that there’s no great way to cram a 100-page magazine elegantly into the digital format, and I think that’s what readers and content producers are beginning to discover. Print magazines may be old-school, but the digital format has yet to be invented that provides a more satisfying reading experience. Magazines simply are not books — hence the reason you don’t hear nearly as much griping about the e-book reading experience. Mags are much more graphical and design-oriented, and therefore conducive to a full-size, hand-held format. And while many content producers rush toward a digital publishing future in an effort to stay afloat, what we may be giving up in the process is that core magazine reading experience. So the question is: Is the sacrifice worth it? And as a follow-up, is it a misnomer even to call tablet publications “magazines” at all? Also, will readers ever warm to them in large enough numbers to be economically sustainable? Times are certainly intriguing these days in the publishing industry, and the next few years will be interesting to follow.

  • Gautier

    True, but there is hope. I bought an app on Van Gogh that really stunned me, Van Gogh’s Dream. These guys set a new standard.