A new service called MagAppZine was the subject of an interview by Jenn Webb on O’Reilly Radar today and is aimed to substantially lower the barriers to entry required for publishing content into the iTunes app store. It’s a white label, DIY app-publishing platform that is limited to PDF uploads, website viewing in an in-app browser and in-app sales of multiple issues of any publication. It looks really well thought out, simple and accessible. The price is about to drop substantially, too with the Fall release of the 2.0 version of the service.
Co-founder Paul Canetti spent 3 years at Apple before leaving to launch a series of iOS training and development businesses. Then he started MagAppZine last July. It’s a simple looking publishing platform that democratizes access to publishing online (we don’t call this site ReadWriteWeb for nothing, folks, we love this kind of stuff) – a little like blogging but for an App Store world.
The company says that next month it will roll out a new pricing schedule starting at $99 per month; the service initially launched this Spring with annual pricing three times that. The price drop for version 2.0 could be much closer to the sweet spot.
“Our most basic app package launched in April of this year,” Canetti told O’Reilly, “but in September we are re-launching MagAppZine 2.0, which will include the new links and multimedia, an InDesign tool, and integration with Apple’s upcoming Newsstand feature. We’re also rolling out a new tiered monthly pricing structure that has plans starting at $99 a month.”
What does it mean to have your work available in an app store? It means there is a central place that consumers can search for it, download it, read reviews and discover related content. When it comes to software, that’s not something that Google for example is really set up to do with web content.
Can PDF-type content do well in an app store context? I’m not sure, but if I had print-style content to distribute I think I would give this service a shot. It looks much nicer, frankly, than magazine reading app platforms like Zinio or HP’s Magcloud (which I love in theory but never use in practice). I want to go directly to the magazines I want to read, not wander around some app store from the app store that’s 75% filled with magazines of questionable quality.
Is that contrary to the ethos of democratized publishing online? It may be; the whole Apple iTunes App Store experience may be. Perhaps though the path to the future is a hybrid model though. With MagAppZine, anyone can publish a PDF magazine as a standalone app in the app store – then each publisher is responsible for driving interest to their content and presenting themselves well in iTunes. The integration of the web browser into the PDF viewer is interesting as well.