Monday, July 1, 2013

Hey, not here – over there!

It's time to shut down this website – at this site on the Blogger platform. Loyal readers of Talking New Media will have to reset their bookmarks from this blogspot website to the branded URL of

So head on over to the new Talking New Media.

This address will remain for a few months to serve as an archive of old content. While most of the stories were moved over to the new website, most were not reformatted for attractive viewing. Photos are misaligned and many headlines don't fit properly. Oh well. That's all old news anyways, right?

Comments here will also be closed. But comments are open at the new Talking New Media so go on over and tell us what you think.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Announcement: June hiatus to begin Monday, other developments here at Talking New Media

As mentioned in a post in late April, Talking New Media will be making a few changes soon. But the first thing that will happen is that starting Monday the site will be taking its June hiatus. This makes it sound like this is an annual event, and I certainly would like it to be but last year was the first time in over 20 years that I was able to take an actual vacation (went to Greece).

This year's hiatus, though, will include taking some time off to move this site off the Blogger platform. So for the next two weeks, and possibly all the way to July 1, TNM will be in a sort of soft shutdown. I may post a story here now and again, so please do check in occasionally (though the best way to get a notice of new posts is by following me via Twitter). But for the most part I want to pay full attention to other activities that involve my own digital publishing projects – obviously more on that soon.

It's been a fun, crazy, and exhausting 3+ years here at TNM and I appreciate you, the readers. I look forward to continuing to post about digital media news, new tablet magazines and newspapers, eBook publishing and the like. But most of all, I look forward to continuing to have conversations with digital publishers, designers, editors and vendors.

Short rundown on new tablet editions: Australian Taxation Office launches its own tablet magazine; Future launches replica for Fast Car;

With WWDC set to begin on Monday one imagines that the Apple app review team wants to clear out as many new apps as possible this week. Today saw another large number of tablet publications launched into the Apple Newsstand, as usual.

One of the more unique new tablet magazines launched today comes from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and is called ATO taxtime Magazine. As one can see above-right, the app comes with an odd sized app icon. But the app is surely a sign that tablet magazines are here to stay – and anybody who says differently is bound to get audited this year.

App description: Find out what’s new this tax time as well as get the Individuals tax return instructions in our new, free digital magazine...Taxtime has built-in videos, checklists and top tips to make doing your tax easier...The instructions give you tools and calculators to help you prepare your tax return.

When it comes to tablet editions no company is as schizophrenic as Future plc. The owner of its own digital publishing platform, one would expect all the new tablet apps to be natively designed tablet editions but that is not the case. For every tablet-only launch like Photography Week comes another replica edition, like this one for Fast Car: the definitive modified custom car culture magazine.

The app offers a one-month free trial when you sign up for a subscription, which is pretty much the norm with many apps today.

TEAM Aesthetic Surgery is a 144 page magazine that the app description says has been "enhanced with slides and videos, and written by qualified plastic surgeons from France and around the world, are full of comprehensive, clear and expert information."

The tablet edition is the first to be released by SAS ORNORM of Talence, France (near Bordeaux). According to the website, this is the second edition of the magazine which features pretty cool photoshopped images for the cover (see here for both covers).

Morning Brief: NSA spying stories force major news organizations to react; Apple clears the decks for WWDC

Only one story is dominating the news the last two days, the National Security Agency's data mining via the gathering of phone records and its reported direct access to the systems of the tech giants – I suppose one could call it two stories, but in the mind of the public it is all about privacy.

As you are most likely aware, The Guardian broke the Verizon phone call records story late on Wednesday and things have not been the same since then. It was a major coup for a news organization trying hard to break into the U.S. market, and is having success at it, at least if measured by website traffic.

From a media perspective what we are seeing is an old fashioned muckraking effort, drawn right out of the days of William Randolph Hearst. The news, generated originally by U.S. expat blogger and journalist (they can be the same, right?) Glenn Greenwald, is so huge that it has forced the hands of the biggest news outlets – either run with the story, or be seen as irrelevant, or worse, on the other side of the issue.

Yesterday the NYT posted an editorial that tore into the Obama administration, saying "President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers" and concluding: "The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it."

The Washington Post, though, has gone on step further by now being a major source on the story, posting a breaking story on the NSA's PRISM Internet data mining operation simultaneously with a similar story from The Guardian. No less than seven headlines concerning the administration's domestic spying efforts currently can be seen "above the fold" on the WaPo's website this morning.

The story generated by The Guardian's U.S. team was precisely what The Huffington Post would have killed for. The online news and gossip site has continued to grow, and while rarely generates original, important news content, nonetheless has become a go-to place of news for many. In this story the website finds itself following rather than leading and it clearly is feeling the pressure to be seen as part of the parade. In response it posted a photoshopped picture that morphed Barack Obama and George Bush into one shot, a bold, if childish attempt to be part of the conversation. When it first appears one wondered the photo would be pulled as reaction came in, instead it remains dominating the home page this morning.

Why this story is generating this kind of response can be seen in a poll currently on the WSJ website that asks if the Obama administration's spying efforts can be considered essential to maintaining security or unreasonable. By a three-to-one margin respondents say such efforts are unreasonable. This result, appearing in a paper not exactly friendly to the administration, may not seem surprising, but the issue of domestic spying is more complex than simply an opportunity to bash the President. This is an issue that unites both the left and right, isolating those who shrug and spin the old yarn that only those with something to hide need fear of government overreach.

The story also comes hard on the heels of a series of stories involving the President that involve privacy issues, some of which are far more complicated than this one. The IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, for instance. Then there were two cases of spying on news organizations (the AP and a Fox News reporter) that clearly upset news organizations. But none of these stories have cut across party lines and involved all citizens the way the Verizon/PRISM stories have.

All any really big national news story, the regional metro papers are left trailing far behind. Neither of the major Tribune Company papers even featured the story on their home pages until today, for instance. In Chicago, neither the Tribune nor the Sun-Times is leading with the story due to the Blackhawks win last night over the Kings. Hockey is dominating.

This morning my iTunes software showed no app updates available. While this might not be rare for you, TNM maintains a portfolio of media apps that is rather large. For every app installed on my iPhone or iPad there are dozens more that lurk inside iTunes waiting for word of an update. But there was nothing to see this morning.

The explanation is that the Worldwide Developer Conference begins Monday and things tend to shut down during that time. So whatever is in the pipeline to be released or updated needs to make its way through the system before Monday.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Retweet: Nielsen report confirms that book buying public remains skewed towards female for both print and digital

AdWeek's Lucia Moses yesterday posted her story about the recently released Nielsen U.S. Consumer Entertainment Report which was definitely a good thing as the research had slipped past me (thank you). You can either read her report, that also includes reformatted charts, or the original report which comes as a PDF download.

Much of the report centers on music and other forms of entertainment not of concern for TNM, but it does contains some basic information on book buying habits by gender and race that may be of interest.

As you can see by the chart at right, females tend to be book buyers a bit more than males, which is no news – but the study shows that it really doesn't matter whether we are talking print or digital.

What is missing here, though, is information one the reading device used and the form the book takes. For instance, we know that more females own Kindles than males – 57 percent of Kindle owners are female according to ComScore (from August 2012), while iPad owners tend to me younger. Also, Kindle owners tend to me less affluent than iPad owners.

Can we conclude anything from this? Not with any great level of confidence, but one might imply that a publisher wishing to reach younger males would be good to publish and interactive eBook for the iPad rather than a plain text version for the Kindle. (But I wouldn't bet the farm on it).

Another question to consider is whether the Nielsen report considered eBook apps as books, or whether this new category of books was not measured. It is possible that something produced by Joe Zeff Design, for instance, would have slipped by the researchers. Do these highly interactive books skew male? They certainly are mostly found on the iPad so we might assume the appeal to more affluent male readers, or can we? (This is why getting the raw data is so important, and why the researchers need to have a good understanding of what they are surveying.)

There is also a bit of a curious anomaly when it comes to the youngest group in the Nielsen report: those between 18-24 skew towards print rather than digital, but it reverses immediately upon reaching the next group. I only think this means that younger, and therefore less affluent readers are still addicted to cheap paperback books as their first choice, but as they are the least likely to buy books anyway it probably means little.

Runner's World's July Newsstand edition published with enhanced coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings; publisher brings in agency skilled in the Adobe DPS, Priest+Grace, to create several interactive features

The July issue of Runner's World, the Rodale Inc. owned monthly magazine, is dedicated to coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings which took place April 15 of this year.

The magazine was in a unique position to cover the story, of course, as the annual Boston event is of huge importance to the magazine – the magazine featured a marathon guide on its January cover, and a half calendar on its February cover, for instance.

The digital version of the magazine (Runner's World) is built using the Adobe DPS and for TNM readers used to a far more progressive vision of the tablet magazines the July issue will initially disappoint.

The magazine opens to what at first appears to be merely an enhanced replica edition. While a hybrid tablet magazine leaves the print ads alone and reformats the editorial pages, Runner's World does little to reform its editorial content. To its credit it does modify the bottom page folios (though it really should simply eliminate them completely to add some room) it does not really do any more than add a few links that bring in out-of-app web content.

The worst part is probably the advertising that is completely replica, right down to two-pages spreads that must be swiped by the reader to see completely as the magazine, up until this point at least, is designed for portrait reading.

But things change dramatically one reaches the added content. The shift is dramatic: the reader is immediately told to turn their tablet to landscape to view the content. The main element are timelines that show the events as they unfold. The time line is clear and well designed and contains some embedded audio interviews. The reader then can move to the next section where a photo gallery takes advantage of the iPad's retina display. The features that follow include animation and video interviews.

All-in-all, the July issue is a dramatic example of what Runner's World can do with the tablet platform and one would hope would inspire the publishing team to reimagine their Newsstand application, taking advantage of the Adobe DPS to present readers with a more engaging and interactive reading experience.

Will readers respond? I believe so.

"The July issue amazed me. The videos and sound clips right on the page relevant to what you're reading is awesome! The picture quality is really good," writes the first reader review to appear since the July issue's release.

To create the timeline seen in the walk-through video below (about half way through the video the new interactive section starts) the publisher brought in a design agency well-versed in the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, Priest+Grace.

The agency created the five piece scrolling timelines with the embedded content. The agency also used Adobe Edge Animate to create the interactive map which shows the various tribute runs that have taken place since the bombings.