The New Frontier of Magazines

Magazines like GQ and Vanity Fair will be coming to an iPad and Facebook page near you soon.

After two and a half years working in the magazine industry, one thing became apparent: the future of print media was cloudy at best. With the collapse of newspapers happening before our very eyes, magazines needed to work to stem the tide and create some kind of economic model to exist in the digital world.

But the industry that is based on people reading words on actual (glossy) paper might have a few tricks up its sleeve after all. This month a Vanity Fair app for the iPad debuted in Apple’s App Store. On top of that, they along with many other magazines will be showing up this summer in the Facebook newsfeed of subscribers.

iPad

According to the New York Times, which got a sneak peak at the app that was released today, the Vanity Fair  June issue is expected to be available at the iTunes store with a $4.99 price tag–the same as a paper version. This is the first attempt by Condé Nast, the parent company that publishes Vanity Fair along with a number of other magazines, to venture into the digital world (not including standard websites).

Some hightlights:

• All of the magazine’s articles and ads are visible in the horizontal orientation, which means the app can count toward Vanity Fair’s total circulation.

• Behind-the-scenes videos of photo shoots are also available.

• The app “remembers” where someone left off reading, even if the person turns off the iPad and calls up text from that spot, and a navigation bar across the bottom and on the upper left directs the person to specific stories.

• Unique ads designed for the iPad show up in the both vertical and horizonal modes. Advertisers, for a fee could also include links in their ads.

The iPad app does create some problems for publishers, however. While they know the name and address of everyone who subscribes to its paper magazines, they cannot get that data from Apple about those who purchase the magazine on iTunes. To remedy this, the magazine industry is working on its own digital newstand so it can control the consumer relationship.

Facebook

In addition to the iPad apps, publishers are also working with companies such as Synapse–a subscription marketing agency, and Alvenda–a company that specializes in Facebook shopping applications, to have the ability to sell subscriptions directly on Facebook Pages and even in users’ newsfeeds.

According to AdAge, beginning in July or August, users will be able to share articles with friends that can then be expanded into dynamic pop-ups on their newsfeeds. In addition, ads will direct Facebook users subscribe to the magazine elsewhere on the social networking site.

Interestingly, Facebook will not be taking a cut of the revenue generated by subscriptions via the app. What’s unclear, however, is how much information Facebook will reveal to the publishers, creating the same problem they are facing with the Apple App Store.

While newspapers have floundered when it has come to finding a good way to montise thier product, it is encouraging to see leaders in the magazine industry testing out the waters in new technology in order to reach customers in inovative ways.

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