How to create a tablet magazine
April 16, 2012 2:33 AM   Subscribe

Converting a paper magazine to a tablet magazine: What do you have to keep in mind, and what are easy ways to do this?

I've been asked to evaluate if an existing company magazine could be converted into a tablet magazine version. The magazine already exists in PDF format. The goal would be to have a simple, electronic version that looks nice and is easily browsable/readable on tablets; I am not looking to completely overhaul the paper version with interactive bells and whistles. It may, but does not have to be an app.

Do you have any pointers on how to do this? What are the pitfalls?
posted by lord_yo to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Please use an app or a web app. PDFs are nice for their universal compatability, however we must keep in mind what PDFs were designed for: document portability. The container is attached to paper sizes.

This is coming from the user side, not the professional side. Thus I cannot tell you how to do it, rather I can tell you that from the user side, PDFs are not ideal, at least on iDevices, as the text does not automatically reflow. Perhaps a better way to put it is that reading a PDF on an iDevice is like looking at the PDF through a rectangular cutout that has a document beneath it. Lots of finger acrobatics involved.

As far as interfaces go, it's hard to beat Pulse for navigation of sections (vertical scrolling) and articles (horizontal scrolling). Also, TheBrowser has created a mostly-usable app that aggregates content from a variety of sources. It's a different animal than what you are looking at, however I use it every day and find it to be a highly functional of reading newspaper and magazine content.

Cheers on not wanting to overhaul it. I can't think of a great example where that has worked. Please ensure whatever your solution, that it reflows the text based on the device being used. Content fans everywhere will thank you.

Oh, and the other big feature I would say (coming from London) is offline reading. It's really annoying to read services without offline reading in a place where data access is not present on the tubes, and questionably present on trains.
posted by nickrussell at 3:36 AM on April 16, 2012

@nickrussel: Thanks for providing the user perspective, this is really helpful! I have to look at Pulse and TheBrowser, as I don't know what they are.
posted by lord_yo at 5:23 AM on April 16, 2012

This may be something everyone knows already, but Adobe has magazine layout software for tablets and I've heard good things about it being easy to use. However, I don't know how expensive it is, or your budget. But perhaps googling this will generate some leads on demo software or alternatives: Adobe InDesign CS5.5
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:33 AM on April 16, 2012

Actually, maybe these are better links: Adobe Digital Publishing Suite family, Adobe AIR.
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:37 AM on April 16, 2012

Please be aware that Adobe publishing tools have recently been blamed for the fact that some digital magazines look terrible on the new iPad screen (since text is rendered as an image and not as, well, text) and weigh in at over several hundred megabytes. This does not make for a good user experience.

posted by mr_silver at 3:31 PM on April 16, 2012

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