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Everyone believes that the iPad and all the copycat tablets that are sure to hit the market around the holiday season will save publishers. Newspapers seem to think so, magazines seem to think so, even book retailers think so, just like everyone else. Inevitably, the big names will hit the ground running with great apps, like The New Yorker. And today, they are off to the races.
To begin with, the app is gorgeous and easy to navigate. This is made obvious by a short video you can see on The New Yorker site or in the app itself (iTunes) when you download it, then download the "How To Use" and "Sample Table of Contents" into the app. The video is directed by Roman Coppola (of the famous film family) and stars Jason Schwartzman, who hilariously guides us through the app's features. There are a variety of methods to get to content (our favorite being the cartoon gallery) and there's print, audio, and video as well embedded in the issue.
Clearly a lot of time and thought went into content management and what readers would want to see. The app itself is free, and you download issues into the app. You can save as many issues as you like to read whenever you want, and every Monday a new issue is available to download. The sticking point for us comes in the pricing. Each issue costs $4.99 with apparently no means (currently) to allow print subscribers more access or a discounted digital rate. Clearly the app provides tons more content in terms of the AV aspects (most of which are free on their site), but Condé Nast needs to find a better way of migrating their subscribers to this app if they want to see it survive.
We're still in the early stages of how iPads and e-readers alike affect content delivery, so no one's quite sure what the accepted formats and standards are going to be. What are acceptable pricing practices? Will magazine/newspaper apps be as free-wheeling as websites or will they be codified into cookie cutter predictability just like print magazines tend to be right now? No one knows for sure, a point made by The Editors of The New Yorker in their announcement up on their home page. "Right now," they write, "editing for the iPad feels similar to making television shows just after the Second World War, when less than one per cent of American households owned a television."
Let's certainly hope they're as thoughtful and as intelligent as we imagine and are thinking harder about their subscribers in their plans.
Meanwhile, enjoy Jason Schwartzman. And, yes, he has his pants on for most of the video.