You know, at first I wasn't so impressed with the iPad, but the more I thought about the ways in which you can use it, the more excited I got. As a piece of leisure technology - something you just have laying around your living room like a newspaper - it's a lot more user friendly than a laptop or an iPhone.
However, I don't think the iPad is revolutionary. By now we're well familiar with multi-touch devices and apps stores. And let's face it, ebooks are nothing new. The iBooks app isn't going to be breaking any ground, but you know what would? An iMag store.
Sure, there're sites like emagazines.com that offer browser-based magazines, but there's no one universal storefront for emagazines that's easy to use. Even Zinio doesn't make the emagazine buying experience as easy or pleasurable as buy a song from the iTunes store. Can you imaging what an iMag app might be like? Bjørn Rybakken, creative director at Tangram Design, an Oslo based design agency, sent me these mock-ups (and you guys know how I love mock-ups) which got me thinking what the iMag store might be like.
Now, before someone stops me and says "But the Kindle does magazines..." It does, but not how magazines should be done. In my first journalism class we learned of how in the early part of the 20th century (I think the year was 1913, but can't be sure – sorry professor), the editors at National Geographic were putting the finishing touches on an issue that was a day away from going to press when they discovered that they came up short in the articles department that month. In a last-ditch attempt to fill the space the editor-in-chief decided to publish eleven full-page photographs a journalist had sent him. Before that issue, National Geographic (like all magazines of the day) had been what we would consider a journal – a lot of text articles with few photographs. When the issue hit newsstands, the editor-in-chief was sure the publishers would fire him. They didn't. That issue turned out to be their best-selling issue since the publication started in 1888. People loved the photos and since then, National Geographic has become synonymous with iconic photography and every other magazine in the world has used photography as a way to enhance and highlight their pages. Magazines aren't like books. Magazines rely heavily on photography, charts, sidebars, page-bleeds, and even cartoons. E-ink readers like the Kindle just can't give you the magazine experience that a full-color display can.
An iMag store could allow you to find and purchase magazines from all over the world, in any language. You could search by title, subject, or even author (a cool search feature because most authors write articles for many magazines). Indie magazine publishers would also now have a wider distribution network - and a chance at a wider audience. The magazines could feature videos in the articles, live polls, and even integrated chat rooms discussing the current article.
iMag store pricing? Yearly magazine subscriptions for $9.99. Single issues for 99 cents. There's been countless times I would have liked to buy a magazine I don't normally read off the newsstand, but the $4.99 cover price kept me from doing so. However, if I could get that same magazine for 99 cents instantly in electronic form, I'd buy it in a heartbeat – especially if they were all as slick as this.
Existing emagazine sites charge between $9.99 and $34.99 per title for an annual magazine subscription. I think most publishers would agree to a $9.99 price through an iPad iMag store if they could supplement the lower pricing with revenue generated from in-page dynamic advertising (it's 2015 and you decide to peruse a 2014 issue of MacWorld: the ads in the iMag MacWorld magazine have updated to advertise the current 2015 iCar) – especially if the forecasts are correct that there will be 12 million iPads in homes across the world by the end of 2011. Not to mention 12 million potential iPad customers is a hell of a way to get their subscription rates up.
But the best thing about an iPad iMag store? No more of those annoying magazine subscription cards falling all over your lap.