Digital magazines for your tablets
It may be tough to digitise the experience of leafing through a physical book, but some e-reads out there are great experiences in themselves. How can you access them?
Do you love reading magazines and periodicals? Do you own a tablet PC? Did you know that the two can be married?
Sure, the smell of a fresh magazine, the entire reading experience is different when it is an actual glossy paper magazine, as compared to seeing it on a tablet. But if you already have a device, would you not want to have your favourite read on it?
The publishing world has taken note of the potential of the tablet as a way to reach out to new readers, and even retain existing ones. Digital publishing has come into vogue, and magazine publishers too have taken the plunge to go digital. With dozens of digital reading devices such as the iPad, sundry Android tablets and Amazon's Kindle crowding the market, they could ill afford to ignore the trend.
Over the last few years, this market has consolidated, and today there are primarily two major publishing companies that help push magazines on to the tablets, though there are some magazines that choose to do the whole thing themselves. Let us look at some of the available options.
Zinio (Application is free; you pay for the magazines to which you subscribe)
Available for iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, desktop PCs and for the WebOS Zinio was the first off the block, so to speak, and has become very popular with fast downloads and the option of subscribing to individual magazines or even buying individual copies, which get delivered to the consumer's device directly.
In addition, Zinio offers a set of free articles each month, on a wide range of subjects — art, automotive, entertainment, sports and travel. You get samples of articles from a magazine, which you can then buy or subscribe to. Both Indian and foreign magazines are available.
There are downsides, though. Zinio publishers push only the print edition of magazines — which means there is no interactive content. Also, you cannot preview a magazine before buying it.
What is great about Zinio is the download speed, which is hugely fast. The way it displays the list of issues is also amazing: you can sort issues by month, by year or even by title. If you don't want to clog your memory space with the data, you can remove it easily, download it again later. You can also book mark articles, get a snapshot (double spread of all pages with a single click) and get an interactive table of contents. No prizes — Zinio is this writer's favoured e-reader.
Magzter (Application is free; you pay for the magazines to which you subscribe)
Available for iPad, iPhone, desktop PC and Amazon Kindle Fire Magzter has five obvious advantages over Zinio. First (and obvious) — the Kindle Fire version, which means more devices, and so more subscribers. Second, it integrates into the News Stand application on the iPad. Some of the magazines come with rich content, such as videos and voice recordings, and some (if the publisher allows) have a direct link to share the article on social media. Perhaps the best feature — it allows you to preview the magazine before buying it. But their portfolio is small when compared to Zinio — though it is growing. We have also had a couple of issues with customer support, though minor ones.
More and more publishers have begun to push their magazines directly, outside of Zinio and Magzter. Some let you use the same print subscription i-d, and enable electronic downloads of pending issues. Some have exclusive content available only on their tablet edition. The problem with this is that if you happen to have an iPad and an Android device, you can get your magazine on only one device. Also, there may be no way of getting the content on your PC. If you are a one-device person, it is ok. For magazines such as Wired and Popular Science, an iPad subscription makes sense, because they have huge quantities of rich and exclusive content that is not available in the print edition. For Magazines such as Bloomberg Businessweek, Zinio/Magzter can suffice. Since both Zinio and Magzter are free, nothing stops you from downloading both, and comparing one against the other for subscription deals and offers. Always check for best deals before you buy.
(Gagandeep Sapra is a technology entrepreneur, who calls himself The Big Geek)
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