Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Digital Magazines


Newsstand, Apple’s digital magazine application, was introduced in October 2011. I didn’t catch on with the new way of reading magazines because, well, I don’t read many magazines anyway. Most things I want to read about are freely available online, so I seldom find myself wanting to pick up any magazines. Except, perhaps, for the occasional feature article that isn’t available online.

Recently, I received a free magazine subscription on Zinio. It’s one of the bigger digital magazine platforms. It got me started thinking about reading digital magazines again. It’s not my first time thinking about that. Suppose I do decide to get onto the digital magazine bandwagon, which platform should I go with? There’s Zino, then there’s Apple’s Newsstand of course, and then there are also others like, for example, Next Issue.

The biggest problem I have with Newsstand is that it’s only available on iOS platforms. That means, I can only read Newsstand magazines on an iPhone or and iPad. Can I read Newsstand magazines on my Android device? No. Of course, don’t expect Apple to suppor the competition. But how about on other Apple hardware, like for example, my MacBook Air? Well, not that either. Newsstand is really limited to just iOS. It’s quite disappointing for me, because my iPad is not something I carry around regularly with me.

To me, Zinio has a strong advantage in their cross-platform availability. Zinio has an app for iOS, Android, and some editions of Windows. There’s no native app for Mac OS X, unfortunately, but they do have an AIR (Adobe Internet Runtime) version that does run on Mac OS X. It’s not ideal, but at least I still get to read Zinio magazines on my MacBook Air.

I found the subscription rates on Newsstand to be slightly lower than that with Zinio. However, the user interface with Newsstand is somewhat haphazard. It’s quite unlike what you’d expect from Apple. That’s because each magazine is really its own app, and thus each magazine looks and works differently. Zinio, on the other hand, has a more consistent user interface throughout.

I didn’t like the subscription model of Next Issue. You pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to all magazines in their library. The problem is that their library is quite limited, and most things I want to read aren’t included in it.

So, I’ve somewhat settled on Zinio as my preferred digital magazine delivery platform. They run promotions regularly, even including giving away “free” $5 vouchers even when you haven’t bought anything. I guess it’s their way of enticing you to get started with a subscription.

I still find the free Internet websites the best way to receive most up-to-date news and information. I’m not entirely certain, still, if I’ll really buy into this digital magazine idea. Like I said earlier, I rarely buy print magazines anyway. But I suppose for traditional magazine publishers, this is probably the most viable route for them to continue to stay in business.

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