I wanna make a zine! Just like the one I had in college, but different...
December 3, 2012 6:58 PM   Subscribe

You guys are always supersmart and up-to-date with this kinda stuff. Help this semi-retired print designer understand the tablet/mobile magazine biz!

Okay, so I've resisted doing apps and other stuff for my Los Angeles-themed website because I saw that other people's efforts were changing (and failing) so rapidly. I'm old school, so I want to create a content-driven resource that people can use on many many platforms and won't be so tech-centric that it will become obsolete and disappear in two years. And I want it to be something I can understand and control, and I don't need a team of programmers to deal with.

That's when I read this. Although I tend to like my pretty graphics, lately I'm aching to believe in the future of clean, simple multiplatform stuff that has great content and are easy to read and nice to look at. I want to keep my FB presence, but grow as a publisher and do something real, well-written and tangible instead of posting meaningless snippets on Pinterest and Instagram and Twitter, blah blah blah.

Yeah, I'm old. Get off my lawn.

As a journalist with a 20 year career as a print designer, magazines were always a love of mine. As someone who used to teach InDesign and Photoshop, the tools for this are more familiar too. I just need to know more about what it takes to get a multiplatform magazine/city guidebook going and make it successful (hopefully for a long time despite an ever-changing world).

* I understand that the magazines are generally created in InDesign. Then I guess CondeNast uses Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Someone else mentioned "WoodWing" which I've never heard of.

Nobody I've asked has ever used either of these programs or can tell me anything about them, how good they are, or how they work. Can you?

* I've read that you can easily stay within a live area to make a magazine for multiple platforms without doubling any efforts. Are there any tips I really need to learn or know about this kind of digital publishing? Stuff I need to be aware of to do it well?

* What are the unexpected costs or stumbling blocks I might not know to expect as I consider starting on this road?

And lastly...
* What do you smart folks think of the future for tablet/mobile magazines?
posted by miss lynnster to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
About tablet/mobile magazines:
Felix Salmon had a blog post critical of tablet native journalism earlier today. It makes for interesting reading. The comments to his blog post are pretty good too.
posted by justlooking at 7:50 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I think a big problem with The Daily was the pay wall. They were stupid. I'm thinking of some different ideas.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:59 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not clear what your looking for or where you are. You have a website and you want to...do something to make it appear on tablets? Does the website not display well on tablets? What does Indesign have to with all of this?

Can you clarify what you're trying to do, what you currently do and why you think it isn't working?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:39 PM on December 3, 2012

My opinion is that your best bet is to have your content live on a web site or blog and have it stream into content aggregators like flipboard. That way you keep your image and branding and have archived material on your site. I particularly enjoy the way the dwell site is organized and displays images and stories. It is easily aggregated into other news sites. In short, concentrate on populating your web site first and let the tools on other sites and apps do their thing.
posted by i_wear_boots at 9:44 PM on December 3, 2012

Response by poster: I can't link to my site or I would. It's a community of a quarter million people on Facebook who follow my advice on what to do in Los Angeles.

To design a magazine tablet, industry standard is InDesign to begin the layout. http://www.editorandpublisher.com/Features/Article/Up-Close-And-Digital-With-Adobe-s-Digital-Publishing-Suite

I already had a website and in the coming year I may end up letting that be taken over by a partnership with a large travel brand. Meanwhile I am trying to do something different as a side project on my own that is more about independent publishing, easier to have translated into multiple languages, and monthly so it's less day to day work. I am trying to do someting as an expansion, but I don't want to pay a developer to create an app that has all sorts of programming requirements. I just want it to be about simple content people can carry with them on their phone and tablets as they go around the city. And something that is in my wheelhouse so I can edit it myself to save money and expedite it.

Usually you guys know more about these things than I do... but I'm starting to think that when it comes to magazine tablets and this stuff, nobody knows anything at all about how they work or has real insight on their future potential other than The Daily's failure. It's frustrating.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:25 AM on December 4, 2012

I do know that if you subscribe to Adobe's Creative Cloud, they give you a free one-shot submission with Digital Publishing, basically setting it up as an app on the iTunes App Store.

A link to the DPS single-shot.

But right now a lot of these things are in flux. No one really knows what's going on. You can be an innovator, a definer, a leader. Or it might not work. That's kind of the amazing bits of the current situation.
posted by mephron at 1:54 AM on December 4, 2012

I still have the same questions Brandon asked. Since the article you linked to in the OP specifies HTML as the basis of any solution, as Brandon said - what is it that web sites (or at least the commonly available content management systems) do not do that you need?

Is it a way to charge for the content / insert advertising / generate a revenue stream? A mechanism to automatically download and locally save copies on devices so that a live internet connection isn't needed?

When you say "easier to have translated into multiple languages" are you talking about something that provides its own translation tools to let your employees or contractors who may not be professional translators do translation, or something that interfaces with the kinds of tools and systems that professional translators and translation services use? Because those are two very different requirements.
posted by XMLicious at 2:12 AM on December 4, 2012

It sounds like you want to put out a magazine/guidebook in multiple formats (web, print, mobile) and you're looking for tools to do that for a one person shop.

Having worked at weekly newspaper and done the design and production of the PDF mag, MeFi Mag and is now looking at transferring all the PDF goodness to the web here's what I think:

Start with a Content Management System first, which should be web based and then use that to flow the content into Indesign. I messed with converting the alt weekly type newspaper I work from Indesign CS5 to web and epub format and it was very restrictive. We would have had to literally reformat the newspaper to make it easy. Otherwise, it was a matter of copying and pasting text and art from the original Indesign docs into new, web centric or epub docs and then exporting those. Big time investment.

Same thing with taking the MeFi Mag Indesign docs and putting an issue online. Big time investment and drudgery. Damn you klangklangston!

As to Adobe Digital Publishing Suite and Woodring, I've never used them, but the form seems like a solution for a lazy problem i.e. converting print stuff for web/tablets. No one wants to convert all their legacy documents to this new fangled web format. Adobe to the rescue with a tool to help publishers avoid doing that while (and keeping their old mindframe), while putting money in Adobe's bank. WIN WIN.

HTML/CSS is relatively simple. Indesign documents can be very complex. Trying to go from complex to simple is asking for problems, better to go from simple to complex, while keeping your content in an easily attained format, i.e. HTML/CSS for the web. From there flow the content into Indesign.

So it seems as though you want to do tablet mag for some reason. Can you articulate why you specifically want do so? What is it about them that you think will best serve your market?

Otherwise, were I in your shoes, I'd concentrate on putting up a website that can be easily viewed on multiple platforms. Check out Skeleton, a framework for easily building cross media sites, i.e. laptop and mobile versions in one go, instead of building and maintaining two or more versions.

Installing Wordpress with an Export to Indesign plugin is another option, though not one I've tried.

Lastly, I'd advise you not to wedded to the magazine format, just the idea. I love Indesign using it for page layout and publishing, it's a great tool. But it's a limited tool that is very much designed to be a print tool, which doesn't always translate to other media. Don't be stuck on using it or making it your only tool.

Hope all this helps
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:53 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

« Older Looking for a really good massage therapist in Ann...   |   Where to get my onsen on? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.