3 Beautiful (And Useful) Digital Publications

By Mark Gerardot | Apr 08, 2011

When Apple launched the first generation iPad in April 2010, they deemed it a “magical and revolutionary product.” Although there was some debate about this claim (some said the iPad was all hype), there’s no denying the effect the iPad had in the advancement of the tablet computer. Now, a year later, there are multiple alternatives to the iPad 2, and this is just a glimpse of what is to come.

Take the tablet scene, plus the increasing popularity and availability of quality smart phones, and add the exciting new advances in web technology. The outcome is simple: Now is the prime time reconsider the way your company goes about digital publishing, take advantage of the latest technologies, and invest some marketing dollars into it over the next year.

PDF and flip book style publications, even ebooks, have been around for quite some time. But with the recent technology advancements, digital publications are becoming mainstream. What does this mean for you? More and more people will be viewing magazines, catalogs, and other publications on their mobile devices and in advanced browsers. Let’s take a look at some examples that showcase the possibilities for your future publications.

On the Tablet: SPIN Play

“SPIN Play is a new concept in music discovery from the publishers of SPIN magazine and SPIN.com… Each issue enables consumers to watch and listen to artists as they read about them, resulting in a totally immersive experience. SPIN Play represents the next generation of SPIN as a cross media platform company and a premiere resource for music discovery. ” -iTunes Description

SPIN Magazine “gets” digital publishing. Not only do they provide the full magazine, traditionally read in print, but they add in music and videos, plus the ability to share with friends. On top of this, Spin gives away a large amount of new content daily, which is key to user retention, ultimately leading to more paid downloads of the magazine. This gives the user an experience that cannot be achieved in print. Not to mention a more enjoyable experience due to the level of interactivity.

Not a magazine publisher? This example still applies to you. Imagine your company’s product catalog or brochure, incorporated with a search option, interactive photography, videos and other features such as a shopping cart. Think of the possibilities. Your clients will fall in love with your products and services all over again.

On Your Phone: Pottery Barn Catalog Viewer

Pottery Barn brings their catalog to your iPhone in a simple and interactive app. Featuring some of the catalog examples I stated above and others: zooming, interactive photos and videos, click to purchase, and a shopping cart. Phone screens might be small, but a mobile catalog designed rightly can be mighty. Not everyone has a tablet, but smart phones are taking over the mobile phone industry, meaning a huge consumer base is in place, ready and waiting for your digital publication.

In Your Browser: Sports Illustrated Magazine in HTML5

At last year’s Google I/O, Sports Illustrated demoed a protype of their magazine in HTML5. It highly resembles an iPad app. However, this is a browser based magazine, folks. HTML5 still has spotty support (the various modern browsers support it to varying degrees), but the above video shows the near future of browser based publications (and the web in general). This isn’t to say we can’t head this direction now, by supplementing with current web technologies. Let’s ditch the flip book and move on to a beautifully interactive alternative.

Bottom line:

Although PDF publications can come in handy, and even the overused flash flip books, it’s time to offer readers a more interactive experience with your company’s publications. The technology is here and will soon be the standard.

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