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Magazines on line, great idea!

I love the headline I used for this post! Gee, do you think NO ONE has ever thought of putting a magazine on-line that you could download IN PLACE of purchasing a paper subscription?

I think every human who EVER saw a computer connected to web has had this thought. The problem is of course that reading text on line is usually a REAL CRAPPY user experience. Slow response, tons of offensive pop up ads and crap browser interface have given the impression that web based reading is horrible!

However, despite this bad user experience, zillions of companies have tried to distribute on-line content..and have FIALED miserably.

Thus, people walk away thinking that on-line delivery of a magazine can NOT replace the paper one!

Well, the REAL problem here is not the idea of delivering a magazine..but delivering something that has a MUCH BETTER user experience then just browsing the web. We are talking about clean HIGH QUALITY pages that you can read with ease..and none of this browser crap.

Of course, some of the early attempts to package mainstream magazines where just a pdf copy of the original paper magazine. Use of pdf files did solve the problem of HIGH quality, and it certainly got rid of the pop-ups, and all the other annoying crap that the web has in terms of delays etc. However, these pdf files were NOT hyper-linked, and thus again the user experience was not very good. And, I hate to say it..but the early attempts had no digital rights built in.

Well, guess what…someone just hit the bull’s eye here.

They got it ALL right.

They even allow you to email a copy of the magazine to others (actually, what happens is a “link” is sent and that user has to download the magazine. This means you can “lend”/send to some friends, but if you abuse this and send to a zillion people you an’t going to get away doing that.

Anyway…I just received my first copy of a magazine that is subscription based, but an electronic copy of the printed version. I actually had a choice between paper and electronic. WOW…I love the electron version….it is actually better then print!

Darn it..what a great and obvious business to have created. I am just shaking my head as to why I did not think of this idea. (well..everone did..but they just did not think how to execute it…these guys did!).

The other moral of this story shows how FAR superior a nice rich client is for most things we do. People walk home and want to burn cd’s, copy digital pictures…and now are starting to even record TV! All of these “average joe” features requires a nice good interface and client (like windows!).

If you don’t believe that browsing text and information on your local computer is FAR better then the pop-up ad infested web…think again!

This subscription model has been thrown around by virtually everyone…but no one got right …until now.

To anyone…if you want o give a e-magazine a try..head your browser down to

http://www.zinio.com/main

They have some compliment  magazines you can try.

I remember years ago we used to get those inserts in magazine with about a “zillion” magazines you could choose from at a reduced rate (looked like postage stamps that you tear off into a form). Well, this company is obviously the new incarnation of that business model (that model is companies that don’t create, or even make the magazine, but just sell subscriptions anyway they can. I remember friends selling these stuff door to door, and even some pitching this stuff to me in supermarket parking lots. We are talking long before the internet came to be.

What a brilliant idea..and they simply live off of the publishers work. This was, and is a business opportunity missed by so many.!

Anyway….from my first experience with this magazine reader..this guys hit this right on the mark…


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Saturday, May 22, 2004

So, is this the latest MLM fad?...

Data Miner
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Zinio bugs me for a lot of reasons.  First, the reading experience isn't very good, since the article layout still follows pages.  Second, it won't work with non-IE browsers.  Third, it's really slow on my system, and doing simple stuff like flipping pages takes a while, especially with advertisements.

PDF would be better, but a linked tree of HTML or a HTML archive is best, IMO.

Ben Combee
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Hey, hey, whatup, Fat Albert?!

Wisea**
Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Zinio reader on the MAC is amazing. It even simulates turning of the pages. You've got to use it to believe it :-)

Satyadeep Musuvathy
Saturday, May 22, 2004

There is one significant drawback to magazines online.

Sitting on the bog isn't something I want to share with a hunk of electronics.

Simon Lucy
Saturday, May 22, 2004

"Sitting on the bog isn't something I want to share with a hunk of electronics."

You hit it dead on.  I do some of my best reading on the bog... 

Steve-O
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Lousy web site, ActiveX controls on every page so you get the annoying popups everywhere (unless you like getting viruses and have them enabled), then you have to download their spyware to read their magazines... no thanks.

Grumpy Young Man
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Its asking me to install a software on my system for reading the magazine. Thats a non starter IMO.

rs
Saturday, May 22, 2004

It's a custom version of Adobe Reader, probably so that you can't simply copy the PDF file and distribute it to other people as you normally could. The need for special software is irritating but I found it works well enough.

Chris Nahr
Saturday, May 22, 2004

I've used Zinio reader on my Mac, and I don't like it that much. The turning pages effect gets a nice "oooo" reaction the first time, but beyond that I don't find that it enhances the experience any. And it makes it take longer for the pages to turn. Scrolling around the page to read is sort of a pain and (at least on my 15" powerbook) if I zoom it so the entire page fits on the screen, the text is too small to read comfortably. So I end up having to zoom so half the page fits and then scroll up and down as I read the columns. Ugh.

It's nice to have magazines online for searching articles and such, but for normal reading, I'll still take paper.

Sean Harding
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Its sent me three emails since. I tried to unsubscribe. First there is no direct option. I wrote an email to customer service asking them to unsubscribe me. They replied saying they cannot do that. And gave me the address and phone number of Business Week (the magazine I was trying to read in the test download before realizing I needed a reader). Now I am supposed to contact Business Week and it might "take them six to four weeks to" unsubscribe me. So I guess I will continue receiving email from this company till then.

Don't try this unless you want your inbox filling up without an option to unsubscribe.

rs
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Albert said:

"The other moral of this story shows how FAR superior a nice rich client is for most things we do. People walk home and want to burn cd’s, copy digital pictures…and now are starting to even record TV! All of these “average joe” features requires a nice good interface and client (like windows!)."

I'd just like to point out that at least one of the features you mentioned above (PVR-type capabilities) actually has been implemented quite well as an internet explorer based app...  The Microsoft Media Center software that sits on top of XP is really just a fancy web app :)

Now granted, all the data and pages are sitting on your hard drive, so it's a *local* web app and therefore doesn't get put into the same category as far as all the standard thick vs thin client arguments. 

But the point referenced here was the quality of the UI experience, and I think MCE does quite a nice job of that.  It certainly is very possible to build rich multimedia-oriented UI's in HTML (albeit perhaps with the help of a couple ActiveX controls for system level functionality).

Joe
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Dear Albert,
                  Reading online using a browser can't be that bad. I spend about three or four hours every day doing it.

                  What I find irritating about all these online readers and so on is that they are trying to reinvent the wheel. For readiing online HTML wins over everytihing else - reading text online is what it is designed to do. .Pdf files are great for printing and Acrobat for the Palm means they are great for reading on a PDA, but for the screen they are lousy. The only reason they are used is for security.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Your spell checker has FIALED!

Picknitter
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Miserably.

Picknitter
Saturday, May 22, 2004

A few good points brought out here:

** we all still prefer having a nice magazine over some computer terminal. You can’t really cozy up to your computer to read a magazine. I don’t see any possibility of using a computer to replace a magazines. I totally agree with all comments. And, even my self I prefer in most cases a paper magazine.

However, e-mags do have some advantages also (you can take MANY magazines with you…they are searchable, they don’t pile up all over the place. When I think of the piles of computer magazines I used to have..I can’t imagine how many I would have now based on the INCREASED amount of reading that I do. Paper really does start to get messy.

** Quality of text. A few people seem to commented that the text was not the right size, or zoomed right, or was not that clear. On my windows XP..the default settings were bang on..and the reading was much nicer then HTML pages..by a good deal. I do think there should be settings to reduce the “cool” effects….I would certainly agree that time delays should be a user setting.

** The 15 meg install and setup of the client sucks big time! Yes…everyone got that complaint right! Again, I totally agree….however, a rich client CAN provide a better experience then what most web based systems deliver (and, of course we do need off-line ability anyway. So, I still am in favor of the rich client tool…but it got to install and work in a painless fashion. Some rightly pointed out that with some add-ins to a browser, you could likely get the same user experience. Either way, we are talking about a enhanced system…above and beyond what the basic browser offers.

** Reading on line is not that bad. Well, that is true..we are all doing that right now..and for sure MOST of my reading does occur on line!.

I do think however that the formula these guys got it right (it can still use some work..but it is the first example of a subscription based electron magazine system that I can see that works….and it will only get better..). I do think there is room for this type of subscription model….


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Saturday, May 22, 2004

Again the ActiveX means it's a non-starter.  Using ActiveX is inviting virueses, worms, trojans, spyware etc to inhabit your hard drive.  Sooner or later ActiveX will bite you in the ass.

I ga-rone-tee-it.

As400
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Okay before getting into this I will give the geeks' answer (as Joel so fondly pointed out his ins Forum Design article)

* Magazine = natural stock and inserts: 2000 dpi to 4000 dpi / Monitor = 72 dpi [Verdict: Magazine wins on resolution]

* Magazine = feels heavy / Website = same weight as every other site [Verdict: Magazine wins on psychological feeling of worth something]

* Magazine = cost money, a lot / Website = less [Verdict: website wins!]

* Magazine = easy to navigate / Website = HubCanada.com [Verdict: Magazine wins on navigation!]

* Magazine = takes forever to scan into OmniPage, OmniPage chokes on Garamond / Website = View Source or even more advanced!! WGET!! [Verdict: Magazine wins on copy right protection!]

* Magazine = pretty pictures to rip out and post on wall / Website = 75 dpi crap on Epsons [Verdict: A 100 million dollar 6 color printing press has no comparison my friend]

Li-fan Chen
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Oh for those of you who's gonna say you can google online ezines.. no you can't... not if google can't log in.

Li-fan Chen
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Albert in time the magazine presses will wise up and ensure you can't get those encyclopedic searchable cds. You'll end up with LEXIS/NEXIS deals where you pay as you go--article by article. That might not be a bad future at all, I look forward to it--but the established press will be peeved to find that you can search for and read the indies just as easily as the old blokes--and that hurts their plan to lock you in using expensive subscriptions--and therefore hurts them furthur by disabling their ability to sell their ad spaces. So they won't go for a LEXIS/NEXIS unless the article writing community cry foul.

Li-fan Chen
Sunday, May 23, 2004

Maybe it's an age thing (I've had computers in the home since age five), but I don't have any complaints about reading text on screen and find a properly laid out web page quite pleasant to read. I like being able to navigate with one finger (scroll wheel or pg down). For the bog I often take my tablet (posting from the throne right now). PDF's I find quite annoying because of the slowness (downloading, then waiting for the reader to open the first time) and issues getting the page sized just  right. As far as I'm concerned, PDF's are useful for documents intended to be printed and that's all.  So given all that, the Zinio reader didn't do anything for me. I don't recall if the page turn was linked  to the scroll wheel/page down or not, but it would be annoying if it wasn't and the graphical page turn does nothing for me in and of itself.

So I guess the moral is, "to each his or her own."

OffMyMeds
Sunday, May 23, 2004

I find screens slightly more tiring to read. But the killer argument is do do with space.

Screen: 2 square feet if you're lucky
Desk: 20 square feet, plus wall space. There's simply far more space to put stuff, even if half of it is taken up with phone, pens, coffee cups etc.

Maybe in 10 to 15 years, when the surface of the desk is one big screen...

A.T.
Monday, May 24, 2004

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