Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The New Yorker and digital magazines' future

I've talked about how I like the Zinio magazines, which make magazines into PDFs, including infinitely zoomed text (unlike some Kindle Fire magazines which apparently get pixelated text when you zoom in, highly unfortunate).
But there's an even better thing: the format The New Yorker and a few other mags use: a custom design for the iPad/Android magazine, where you browse each article horizontally, and if an article/item has more than one page, you read on vertically. This is very simple and very logical. Of course it takes more work to convert a magazine into such a format. I wonder how much more it would cost Zinio to make the magazines into this format, surely not trivial.

One odd choice (oversight?) in the iPad New Yorker though is that like with many of these magazines, one can't change the text size. To be frank about it, this is like making a car where you can't turn the wheels. Admittedly the chosen text size is comfortable for me, but it might seem large to one with 20/20 vision, and it might be too small for somebody with poorer vision. Changeable text size is one of the biggest boons of digital publishing, it puzzles me why anybody would throw that away.

It anyway seems to me that magazines/papers are well on their way in the digital realm, though only a few of them make good money on it yet. I suspect that the take-off point will be when we have a reader device which is twice the size of the iPad, half the weight of the iPad, and half the price of the iPad. That might take a few years, but it will happen. I believe. It has to, otherwise the job is just half done, for many reasons.

I have heard so many people who like myself, after they have been reading electronically for a couple of months, really don't want to go back to paper. It's surprising to all of us, and I'm very curious what, apart of course from convenience and speed, this attraction is. I have a feeling there's more to it.

Re The New Yorker itself, being Danish I have not been exposed to it in the past, but I've always heard about what fantastic quality it is, for example one writer said that his personal hardly-achievable goal is to write as well as those published in the New Yorker. But so far I must admit I don't really see what all the hullabaloo is about, nothing in the first issue I've read seemed outstanding in any way. (And not substantial either, people said TNY has such long articles, but I didn't see any.)

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