View the iPad as a magazine opportunity, not a container

Matthew Carlson on what iPad magazine publishers can do to better serve readers.

As more magazines take advantage of the iPad’s popularity, one thing thus far has been clear: most publishers are simply reproducing their print products on the digital screen.

In a recent interview, Matthew Carlson, principal of experience strategy and design at Hot Studio Inc., said established magazines are thus far missing the boat by producing iPad editions weighed down by bloated files, slow downloads and locked content:

Magazines have traditionally thought of themselves as kind of a locked book, of a complete, discreet object. Ideally, something that is going to be really interactive or live out on the web needs to be more like an open book — like if you took the cover of the magazine and turned it outside in so that people could discover and access the stories more effectively.

Flipboard screenshot
A screenshot from the Flipboard iPad app.

Who’s doing it right? Carlson pointed toward a trio of companies that wouldn’t be counted among traditional publishers:

The magazines that are doing the best job right now wouldn’t be considered traditional magazines at all. Flipboard, Reeder, Zite — these things are really more like glorified feed readers. Or feed readers that create a beautiful presentation layer. These magazines do a good job of bringing the type of interaction digital media consumers expect. I don’t think many mainstream magazines have quite reached that level of interactivity.

For more on how iPad magazines can do a better job of engaging readers and how best to design and build a magazine for tablets, check out the entire interview in the following video:


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