How to create iPad and Android Tablet apps for print

July 18, 2012

Appearance of iPad changed not only gadgets industry but significantly influenced media market.

Printed issues step-by-step decrease their market presence while digital publications market grows steadily.

Nowadays, probably, every publisher of traditional media or Internet resource considered earning on publishing print issues in digital format.

Talking about publishing on tablets there are two common approaches.

  • First approach supposes use of already developed solutions for content publishing, and the most widespread one is Adobe Publishing Suit (DPS).

   This is Adobe company solution which allows easily adjust content for digital issue basing on print mock-ups,  just using InDesign and spread it through applications markets on paid or paid-free basis.

  • Second variant is to develop your own application with wider functionality. Also this decision got one extra important feature: you shouldn’t pay Adobe for downloads.

Let’s describe Adobe Publishing Suite in details.

Speaking strictly, DPS is an add-on to InDesign software, which is widely used for layout of periodicals and books. But if considering it wider, DPS is a whole ecosystem used for creating interactive content for various devices (first of all, iPad and Android tablets).

Such features as animation, slide-shows and videos can be built-in to the digital magazine as well as adjusting different view mode, depending on landscape of portrait regime. Program generates the file as an output which is ready for downloading to publisher’s newsstand in AppStore or GooglePlay.

The main DPS feature is a newsstand for downloading paid or free magazine issues. Currently, it’s the most popular solution among publishers worldwide worldwide.

Well, how much does it cost?

First of all, publisher purchases Professional DPS package. The lowest price level is about $6K a year and 5 000 user downloads are included in the basis.

If the publisher exceeds the downloads limit, there is an option to buy additional downloads. For example, 10 000 downloads package is offered for $3K, i.e. one download costs $0.30 (official pricing is here)

However, publisher should be aware that download should be paid regardless of whether it is free for the user or not. You can’t do anything with this restrictions because all the downloads are made from Adobe’s servers. Also, it is important to keep in mind that AppStore and GooglePlay in-app purchase takes 30% off the user’s payment. As a result, selling issue for $1, publisher gets only $0.40 (and this is a sum before the taxes).

What about developing your own application?

Decision about developing own application often comes to the publishers after they count the digital issue copy sale net income after subtracting Adobe and app markets commissions, costs for marketing and content creation etc. Good examples of native apps are Esquire, The Daily and others.

High development cost is a disadvantage of such solution. Based on our experience, cost of creating qualitative and beautiful app for magazines and books downloading and reading would start from $15K. And quite simple app with newsstand feature, ability to read html-layout magazines and book with offline access cost start from $10K.

The main value of application made “from scratch” is variability of performance and wider functionality than packages have.

Generally, DPS is a simple newsstand, and comparing to it custom applications could be much more interesting: with several news sections, online broadcast as well as module for sections order  forming by user etc. Functionality list could be limited only with budget and device capabilities.

Other important things to consider

Generally, while taking a decision about digital publishing, it is important not only to count direct costs for purchasing/developing mobile solution but also keep in mind:

  • costs for content creation
  • relevant software purchasing
  • staff education for creation of interactive layouts and publishing system management
  • registration and payment for developer’s account in AppStore/ Google Play
  • costs for your application marketing
  • integration of non-standard ad formats in your app
  • creation of these non-standard ad materials  etc.

So, which one is the best solution for me?

We can assume that your own application is worth developing for those publishers who’ve been in the market for a long time and own at least several popular magazines that users are ready to pay for.

On the other hand, using DPS is more profitable for selling expensive issues when net income exceeds Adobe and AppStore commissions.

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