The Changing Magazine Business

Back in the day (and I’m talking the 1980s here) I used to wait eagerly for the next issue of Amateur Photographer, after all, printed magazines were just about the only way to find out about new products and get photography advice. Photo magazines thrived throughout the 80s and 90s but with the rise of the Internet as a source of good information, specialist print magazines started a slow decline and began to cast around for new ways to survive.

I have been involved in publishing Better Digital Camera magazine in Australia for the past four years, as well as working with Peter Eastway and his Better Photography magazine (which is still in print BTW). We have been scratching our heads about diminishing news-stand sales and so inevitably we looked at digital delivery.

We didn’t want to do the same magazine recreated as a simple PDF download – that’s not clever or interesting. We wanted to harness the elements that has lead to the iPad selling over 100 million units in the three years since it was released. So we looked to the different iPad publishing platforms and settled on one which is so incredibly versatile that it’s limits have yet to be fully explored.

Peter Eastway, Tony Redhead and myself created “Photique” which is a shift from the usual magazine format in that there are no subscriptions or regular issues, just an ever increasing range of individual ‘content items’ written by ourselves and outside contributors. It’s a portal to interesting content, a bit like buying just the parts of a magazine that interest you and best of all, we can use video, audio, slideshows, interactive 360 degree panos, animations, weblinks etc to add depth to whatever subject we are writing about.

It’s new, it’s a bit different and time will tell if this is the way forward for publishers and writers – no-one could have predicted the massive adoption of tablets three years ago so who knows where the next three years will take us.

In the meantime, I should point out that the app itself is free and currently contains 31 ‘issues’. Most of these are available as in-app purchases ranging from $5 to $20 but some are free too. Our app is iOS and iPad-only at the moment but that will almost certainly change as Android continues its rise.

We are fortunate to have signed up Lee Varis as a contributor – he is well known for his advanced Photoshop video tutorials which are normally only available as a $99 package. In keeping with our ‘small bite sized’ chunks policy Lee has allowed us to break up his course into 15 different videos, and the first two we are offering for free.

I have written a free eGuide to Time-lapse Photography too, It’s basic and intended for anyone who has no idea how to start but wants to find out more.

Peter and I also have created some free Portfolios of our work, simple collections of images from recent shoots but which contain useful photo tips and back story that you might find interesting.

Since it’s such a new app, we’d really love to get feedback about the direction we are taking and find out what sort of content enthusiastic photographers are looking for. Within the app is an ‘issue’ called Editions which is an index of all our content. At the back is a feedback form so if there are subjects that you think are poorly addressed out there in the digital world, please let us know.

It’s a brave new world out there in publishing land. No-one has all the answers and the whole playing field, not just the goal posts, keeps moving. It’s fun and exciting, but at the same time scary and frustrating.

Nick Rains
April 2013

iTunes Store – Free Download

Updated: 2/26/15