When I was a kid, I wanted to run my own magazine when I grew up. :)
January 9, 2014 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Hi guys! Okay, so I have a background is advanced art direction & design and I am looking into how to make superawesome interactive digital magazines and booklets that will kick ass and people will love. Do you have experience with this kinda platform stuff? Awesome. I don't. And most people I talk to don't, so I need your feedback and advice pretty please. And if you don't know anything about that, can you give me names of interactive books/magazines you think kick ass (and tell me why you like them) so I can check them out and be dazzled and inspired? Thanks oh, so much. :)

So, I have a state of the art Mac studio with the full adobe creative suite. Used to teach Photoshop. Know InDesign for print, but haven't used it for this. (I figure with a Lynda.com membership I can probably learn what I need... yeah?)

I've been on my iPad looking at books made for iPad, and the interactivity is awesome. I would like to do that. I also want it to be good for people who don't have iPads. (Kindle?) And I guess whatever I create can also be exported as an interactive PDF if people want to download it, right? (Or am I wrong? Let me know!)

• I do not own adobe publishing suite. Is that what I need? Thoughts on best options?
• If you use adobe publishing suite, how is it? What do you like or not like? Any tips for me?
• Are there any unforeseen costs, skills, problems, etc. I should be aware of in producing and distributing a digital book/magazine?
• Any other tips or insights? Pricing structure, working with amazon or iBooks, ANYTHING? I'm all ears!

In closing, you guys are the bomb. I haven't been on here much lately, but don't think that means I don't love you every day*. Mwah.

*Double negative FTW!
posted by miss lynnster to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Woopie is a platform for exactly what you describe.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:55 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

For publishing content across multiple platforms, you might look at Packagr.

A lot of those interactive magazines were probably created by 29th Street Publishing. They have a custom platform that allows publishers/magazines to publish interactive content (and charge for it via the App Store). A few other mobile publishing tools are mentioned in this post.

Personally I have never seen a good interactive Kindle book (and I have a Kindle Fire). KF8 does support most HTML, but I've just never seen a KF8 book that used it well.
posted by mattbucher at 1:03 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been involved in porting a monthly print news magazine to iOS / Android tablets for a couple years now. The actual mechanics of it are pretty simple, albeit labor-intensive. You basically take the print Indesign file and reconfigure it to work at the proportions / resolution of the tablet. We don't do a whole lot of the interactive stuff, but it's really not that hard -- the interactive elements are built kinda like a layer on top of the print design. Indesign, starting with 5.5, added some menu windows just for building the interactive elements. So once you've gathered your material (videos, powerpoints, panoramas, etc.), you import them into Indesign just like placing a photo. (I'm drastically simplifying here, but you get the idea.)

Most print designers take to it pretty easily, because they have the level of control they're use to, but can still add the whiz-bang efx. Which was all part of Adobe's plan, I guess. Also part of the plan was to make sure they got paid; seems like you have to use a third-party to get into the whole publishing-to-tablets thing (though I believe Adobe offers a one-off license for freelancers / design studios to publish single-issue pieces). We ended up with K4, for reasons.

The biggest PITA to me has been the constant, seemingly every other month upgrades to the system. I think Adobe really rushed the whole package because tablets suddenly blew up, and they've been playing catch up. Some of the other pains are getting the publication to work on the various platforms and, really, after putting the print issue to bed, all of a sudden you've got a whole 'nother publication to put out, and coming up with the interactive content is a whole 'nother step (though the writers do seem to come up with material just in the course of writing the articles).

A couple digital publications I like (and are free!):

The Economist puts out a lifestyle pub called Intelligent Life that's quite good. Tasteful use of interactive elements, along with very solid editorial design.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute puts out the HHMI Bulletin, kind of an educational publication about the life sciences. They use a ton of illustration, which is unusual. They've done some nice interactive pieces as well, plus, since I get the print issue (also free), you can compare how they translated the print to digital.

It's a somewhat intimidating learning curve, but the best way to learn is just jump in. Plenty of info at Adobe's site, of course, and they do a good job of answering questions and helping troubleshoot on their forums.
posted by Bron at 7:10 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

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