It took just six months, but Esquire magazineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s iPhone app has crossed a big threshold: itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gotten 100,000 downloads of in AppleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s iTunes Store. But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only for the free Ã¢â‚¬Å“shellÃ¢â‚¬Â that serves as a storefront to buy individual issues or subscriptions. While the Hearst mag says itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sold about 1,000 subscriptions to the monthly digital version of the magazine, sales numbers and circulation figures are not the big focus right now; Esquire just wants to get the marketing right.
Since magazine apps began appearing in the App Store last year, most have appeared as individual paid-download items in the iTunes Store. With some exceptions, most users have balked at paying for the news apps on recurring basis, so titles like Time magazine and WSJ have turned to the free Ã¢â‚¬Å“shellsÃ¢â‚¬Â to serve as an enticement.
However desperately I want it to work, I confess to being hugely underwhelmed by the website for Plastic Logic’s QUE. Compare the demo video with Berg’s spectacular work for Bonnier. By comparison, the Que looks monochrome, clunky, and ancient.
And wasn’t the whole point – I mean the whole point – of the Que that the lightweight plastic machine meant the experience of it was much more akin to consuming real paper-based products? This isn’t even mentioned. Oh dear.
What we seem to have here is a tablet, not plastic paper. And a tablet which is monochrome, limited in interactivity, and with a stupid name that I don’t know how to pronounce. Oh double dear.
For a graphic designer, few jobs are as challenging as designing a magazine. Unlike a logo or a poster, the design of which can rely on blunt simplicity, a magazine is a complex organism, the result of an intricate interplay of words and pictures. Any single issue represents thousands of minute decisions about typography, layout, photography, and illustration. And these decisions are made within an accepted system of conventionsÃ¢â‚¬â€preconceptions we all share about how a magazine is readÃ¢â‚¬â€and more practical and mundane limitations like budgets and schedules.
When I used to work on magazines, I found the design to be the hardest thing. That paragraph encapsulates why – and also counts doubly for websites, which not only have to incorporate all those elements but have to transform “interaction” from something as simple as turning a page to a rich, multi-possibility thing.