More thoughts on Digital Tablet Publishing


Many questions, many answers. Now everybody wants to be on the iPad or other tablets with their publications. So what are your options, how does it work and more important (perhaps) what are the costs? Well first up let’s get the difference between digital publications for tablets. The way I see it, there are 4 options:

  1. ePub (mostly used for books as in literature which are also readable on specific eReader devices like the Kindle)
  2. PDF (PDF reader on iPad isn’t the best one around and you’ll probably lose some possibilities in PDF which doesn’t work on iPad)
  3. Digital Magazines (“famous” examples are “Time” and “Wired”)
  4. Webdriven content HTML5 and other webstuff (yeah I know, i’m still a webn00b)

So my next question is which one of these four options suits you best? Is it the easy way it can be created or is it an adaption of something already printed? Yeah let’s do that again convert and old medium to a new one. We’ve tried and done that before when the internet became populair. (“Oh no! All the newspapers and other print forms are going to die!”… yeah right…). Let’s give this some thought and you know you should. To me its like dragging your company to a trade fair, just because “everybody else is there”. If you find this a valid argument well there’s no need to reconsider. Go out do your stuff and get your app a.s.a.p in the AppStore and Android market, no matter what the content is and no matter the costs! For those of you who look further, consider your publication as it is now printed. In which categorie does it belong? If you choose option 3 can you deliver more, richer and interactive content? On track number 1? Sorry can’t help you with this one, my knowledge of creating ePub files is limited, you could ask Gabriel Powell for instance or the Dynamic InDesign Secrets Duo😉

You choose track number 2? Excellent! Nothing wrong with a good PDF but remember some stuff just won’t work or show on iPad. I know, I’ve tried it with “old” PDF’s designed for full screen view with Acrobat Pro or Reader.

Ah you went along track number 4.. Sorry! Can’t help you there, just find some whizkid who writes lines of codes for fun/work and he’ll help you out. Don’t know if you can make any money out of it because people won’t pay if it looks like a website but they will pay if it looks like a magazine😉

So track number 3 it is! Yeah let’s create a Digital Magazine! So what tools do we use? Let’s keeps this plain and simple, we use InDesign of course! Oh, first glitch, you’re not participating in the pre release program for the Digital Publishing Suite? Bummer, you have to wait until you can get your hands on InDesign CS 5.5! But it’s coming…very soon. Anyway, I assume you’ll agree that the choice of InDesign is obvious. But wait what about The Application That Won’t Be Mentioned Again a.k.a. QuarkXPress? Yeah that’s right, you can use QXP 9 for creating content on tablets. Nice one, but it’s a no-go area for me. Quark still charges same amount of money for a single license that Adobe is charging for a CS 5 Design Standard. Exit Quark (again…)

InDesign it is. Now there are, to my knowledge so far, 4 companies who can provide you with tools:

  1. Adobe
  2. Woodwing
  3. Rovingbird
  4. Aquafadas

Well all parties give you panels/plugins for InDesign. I’ve only worked with the Adobe stuff so far so I can’t really decide which are the best set of tools. I don’t think that is really important either because all tools will lead to the same publication (eventually) as an app. More important is to decide up front what do you want to publish and how often. I guess that will be the ultimate decision to choose for one of the tools/solutions.

  • Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

Well this one is still in progress. So far Adobe has announced prices regarding fees and contributions. But only for Enterprise and Professional. Enterprise means biiiiiiiiiiig publishing agency’s with lot’s of titles to be published. Professional means not soo biiiiiig companies but still a fair amount of titles to be published. So what about those “little” guys? Well there’s talk of an “Agency” model but this hasn’t been confirmed yet.

  • Woodwing

Startup Content Station, Enterprise and InDesign plugin for two users, easy initial cost: € 10.000,- that’s $ 14,900 …. What do you get? Well tools for InDesign, no preview but a cheaper way to get an initial app into AppStore. But there’s also a little catch. It’s a single issue branded app. If you choose the multiple issue in-app purchase model..guess what, it’s going to cost more..

  • Rovingbird
  • Aquafadas

If I see the info on their site and compare it to the rest. Well, same amounts of money are involved, I guess you’d have to figure that one out by yourself

Make no mistake! No matter which solution you choose, they all want to make money! And let’s not forget our friends in Cupertino. Too much? Well consider this, it’s the best working cashregister in the world. Designed for customer ease. You’ll find out when you set up your own store. Some publishers are trying but keep struggling. Same goes for the other open platforms. Sure Androidmarket is free but since there’s no (or little) control regarding content or malware, how do you get your stuff “promoted”? Oh and by the way, almost every solution requires your own Apple iOS Developper account ($99,- a year) and recommandable also for every of your clients😉

Scared now? Good, you should be. This Publishing business is not for the fainted hearted. I’ll put up another blogpost with more details on how to use the Adobe tools for creating an Digital Magazine. It’s a translation of an article I wrote for the NIDUG Magazine number 5 (dutch/direct PDF download).

Thanx to my friend from the South for checking some stuff, you know who you are!

Update 1: It seems there are more fish in the fish than I knew of, trying to get more info from several people on other ways of tablet publishing. Marijan Tompa came up with Padman and James Fritz mentioned Push Pop Press. So a lot of more stuff is coming my and your way. I will keep you all posted on this exiting new stuff!

Update 2: As if Adobe was reading last night, today CS 5.5 is available for purchase and trial versions!

8 thoughts on “More thoughts on Digital Tablet Publishing

  1. Hi Michael, this gives a nice overview about Tablet Publishing. I can give you some more insights into our solution and strategies – just contact me via e-mail if you´re interested.

    Thanks
    Stefan

    • Hi Stefan, thanx for your reply. I’ve got your message on Facebook as well and provided you with an email adress😉 Give my regards to Maarten van Kleiwee!

  2. And to add to the excitement, Woodwing’s OFIP initiative is a very potential solution to let other developers come up with new tools and viewers to create, distribute and read digital publications.

    • That was the blog post which gave me the idea for this one. But there no pricing for Quark’s solution. So how can they say Quark wins by a long shot? If I consider changing to QXP I need a full version (Price: €1,349.00). Then I can try the App Studio for free. But when I want to publish:
      “the App Studio for Quark Publishing System is € 2963, which includes the Starter Application and a license to produce an unlimited number of apps for the iPad. In addition, customers pay a license fee to publish their digital issues. Prices start at € 367 for publishing a single issue, and decrease depending on the number of issues purchased.”
      So where’s that “long shot”??😉

  3. Pingback: May the Force be with me! | Met MacMickey Meer Muis

  4. Pingback: My predictions on publishing for 2012 | Met MacMickey Meer Muis

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