In one of my very early posts last year, I wrote about the progressive move of comic books onto tablets. This move is now well in truly in full swing, with more traditional publishing groups jumping on board and making very compelling digital offerings.
I’m a big fan of science magazines, have been ever since I was a kid. So when the Australian science mag Cosmos launched back in 2005, I jumped at the chance to subscribe to a locally produced science periodical. Since then I’ve enjoyed the bi-monthly mag arriving at my doorstep.
Of course, once I received my first iPad early last year, and began exploring the e-books, magazines and comics available, I wondered when Cosmos would make the transition. And indeed it now has – offering a digital subscription for less than half the price of the standard magazine subscription.
There is a caveat here – the digital version is only available when you are online, and there’s no way to download the magazine. At the moment, the digital version is a soft copy of the paper-based mag, and I hope it will start to be richer in content and follow the likes of the tablet versions of Wired, Project and Popular Science and embed video, animations and audio into each issue.
On the iPad, both Wired and Popular Science have added a subscription option, one that makes financial sense even if you are a casual reader. For example, Popular Science normally costs $4.99 per iPad issue, but you can take up a 12 month subscription for $17.99 – which is only $1.50 per issue! Back in the day, an imported copy at my local newsagent was more than $10.00 per issue, and usually a month late.
Last week, the Sydney Morning Herald released its own iPad app, which is available free for the next few months, after which it will have an $8.99 monthly subscription cost. After spending a little time on it each day, I can say it is truly a great example of a tablet news app, one that does not simply duplicate the website. The weekly magazines are included, and can be accessed for a week after they’re released. The photography layout makes full use of the tablet real estate to enhance the articles. Images are really missed in the browser edition, and this app brings the images to the forefront of news reporting again.
Another interesting announcement last week was DC Comics relaunching, or should I say rebooting, their entire comic book line-up to start back at issue one in September. At the same time, all issues will be available digitally on the day of release of the physical copy. This is great news for those who love comics but don’t necessarily want the boxes of once-read issues cluttering their attic or basement.
The success of the tablet market was always going to depend on content, and how innovative publishers wanted to be in order to get their product into people’s hands. With all of the progress made in cost-effectiveness, differentiation from browser and paper-based versions, and same-day deployment as its traditional counterparts, the tablet has definitely come of age as a one-stop shop regardless of your reading interests.