A New Kind of Newsstand from Apple iOS 5

Posted by: Olivia Young

Say goodbye to the mailman and the paperboy.

iOS 5's Newsstand app creates new possibilities for magazines. Photo credit: Raj Taneja on Flickr via Creative Commons.

The days of waiting at the mailbox for the next issue of Vogue are over. Along with the release of Apple iOS 5 comes the Newsstand app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app streamlines magazine and newspaper subscriptions, organizing and updating them automatically.

App users can also buy individual issues of Apple-friendly publications.

FolioMag.com’s review of Newsstand praises the self-updating app, which has a design similar to the iBooks app: Magazines and newspapers appear on “shelves” and the user receives a notification when a new issue arrives. Big names are already jumping on board, Folio Mag notes:

When viewing the Newsstand in iTunes, some featured titles include Wired, The New York Times, National Geographic Magazine, The Daily and Reader’s Digest…Popular SciencePopular Photgraphy and Sound + Vision are available on the iOS 5 Newsstand as well.

And while Newsstand has a few of those just-released glitches, the app has the potential to change the way we read.

Publications began converting existing print media into iPad apps upon the device’s advent in 2010. So, while iPad publications are not brand new, the Newsstand will make it easier to find – and subscribe to – magazines and newspapers that may be struggling in the print realm.

Will more newspapers and magazines turn their attention to iPad apps because of Newsstand?

At risk of making Newsstand sound like the savior of the print industry, the app does open up a new set of possibilities for publications. It solves the problem of giving away free content online because the app is linked to users’ iTunes accounts; it keeps subscribers reading because it automatically delivers new issues.

As journalism students, we are very aware that print publications – as much as we love them – are not here to stay. Luckily, we’re in a unique position because we understand how apps work and how to market to online readers. (As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”)

Will the Newsstand revive the publication industry? Is it a step toward lessening “free” media content on the web and increasing subscription numbers? What do we need to learn to be successful in the publication app industry?

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12 responses to “A New Kind of Newsstand from Apple iOS 5

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it so hard to believe that magazines will wholly and successfully transfer over to electronic versions. Electronic books and newspapers won’t not lose the glossy finish and vibrant color that electronic magazines would. Readers would no longer have the chance to tear out pages and cut out pictures that they really liked. And maybe I’m the exception, but I think it’s kind of fun to wait for the new issue to arrive and check the mailbox everyday. As for subscription numbers, I’m not sure if people will take the chance to subscribe more often if they have easy access to titles, delivery, and even discontinuation of their subscription. That may be the case, but the people who subscribed in the past may be the only ones who see the value of subscribing to a magazine at all. I’m very torn on this issue because I feel as though the population is so split over physical versus electronic at the moment. This is a really interesting article and subject!

    • I had the same thoughts while I was reading. I genuinely do not think that print magazines will be taken out completely by online editions. Going off of that, the online app is really cool. Seeing the magazine on an iPad would be cool–that is for the first time. After that the app will lose interest because it isn’t the same feeling as flipping through the pages of a magazine. It is accessible, so I see it being a success but I also don’t think it is dynamic enough to replace print magazines.

    • I agree with you both! I don’t think print magazines will disappear entirely, but I’m fascinated (and really excited) that Newsstand gives publishers a leg-up by automatically delivering new issues when they release. Whether or not more people choose to subscribe because of Newsstand, I think those existing subscribers will stay hooked on reading their magazine via iPad. It will be interesting to see what happens!

  2. This is a good topic! I agree with Kathleen, I am also torn between flipping the magazine pages versus swiping a finger across the screen of an iPad. I’m the kind of person who would buy a magazine and probably tear out pictures that I like. But at the same time, it is more convenient to get an app for it. I think as journalism students, we have to keep up with the technological advancements; how we gather the news and providing it electronically. Although I still think that there are people out there who prefers to have the real magazine their hands.

    • I would really miss being able to make collages out of magazines, trust me. But I agree with you in that we do need to keep up with new technology, and, even more important, find ways to maximize on that technology’s potential. I’m as traditional as they come as far as print goes (I love it) but we need to adapt to technology in a way that keeps our publications from losing ground.

  3. Thinking as a reader, not as a journalist, I think the convenience of the Newsstand app is the main hook. There is no extra paperwork to order a subscription, the bill is added to your iTunes account. You don’t need to worry about waiting for it in the mail, receive an email as soon as the latest issue is released (maybe before it hits physical news stands?). We are so in-tune with the digital world, that this system makes sense for the current fast-paced lifestyle.

    Although, I do agree that physical magazines are not going away completely.

    • It’s funny, but as committed as I am to print publications, I do see the convenience in the Newsstand app that you’re talking about. (And releasing the mag/newspaper before its normal print publication date would be a good incentive for readers!)

      I also think the app has a lot of potential for creative journalism, i.e. updating the magazine with certain images and graphics to make it more tablet friendly.

  4. I think this app is a great idea! It is so convenient to have many publications at your reach 24/7. If you’re early for class or waiting on someone, whip out your iPad and continue reading your favorite magazine.

    When I got a Nook for Christmas last year, I was skeptical. I enjoy reading books and collecting them on my bookshelves. I didn’t like the idea of reading from a screen. The convenience has won me over though. It is so easy to carry around. I also really like being able to purchase new titles instantly without having to drive to a bookstore. Overall, I think Newstand will last.

    • I had the same experience with the Nook. We bought one for my Dad on his birthday, and we’ve since learned that he can’t use it (technical difficulties combined with a generational divide). I got my hands on it, and I’ve started to see how useful it can be! Secretly, I’m hoping he’ll give up on it and pass it over to me…I’m scoping it out.

      But I digress. I think that the print industry could really maximize on adapting to tablets through apps like Newsstand.

  5. I dont think that it will ever completely erase print magazines. I think that dedicated readers to certain magazines will stay with their print versions. However, this Newstand app is awesome. My mom just got it on her iPad, and I think it is very convient. Especially when we travel. I can have 4 magazines all conviently placed in one spot, instead of carry around 4 print magazines along with all the other stuff I have to carry. Overall, this Newstand comes with no surprise. Digital media is taking over, but i dont think print will ever be a thing of the past.

    • I’m glad the Newsstand app is as practical as it sounds on paper! Being iPad-less, I haven’t tried it yet. I hadn’t thought about the convenience of the app for traveling – that would really free up a lot of carry-on space. I wonder if, someday, airport bookstores will start selling e-publications. That’s an interesting thought!

  6. Emily - Drake University

    I agree with the previous comments: I don’t think print magazines are going anywhere. That said, I think the app has a lot of potential. I’m sure there are those people who don’t savor the experience of reading a magazine and are simply looking for the information. For them, Newsstand is perfect. For the rest of us, it can still be useful when we’re on the go or when we want the new issue immediately.

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