The iPad is a natural wonder for multimedia publication. The New Yorker gets its magazine perfectly right on the iPad. I went in search of music publications that would take the New Yorker example of perfection to the next righteous level of multimedia immersion in music.
I was left wanting. The first iPad Newsstand subscription I purchased was one for Guitarist magazine. Sure, Guitarist is UK-influenced, but a guitar is a guitar, right?
Unfortunately, when you purchase a subscription to Guitarist, you are only able to read versions of the magazine that are “iPad/iPhone Ready” and there are only four issues I can currently read. There isn’t much of an available back library.
While the content is excellent, the reading experience is pretty awful and that poisons the promise of the great writing and design.
You’re reading the paper magazine that has been exported to iOS. The New Yorker looks and feels as if it were created specifically for the iPad. Guitarist is no New Yorker.
Here’s what a single page looks like. You really can’t read the text at all without straining.
If you want to get larger text, you have to double-tap the screen and then scroll around to read. Is that any way to read a page of a magazine? You have to scroll left, then right and down and then right again just to read everything on one page. Forget about reading the magazine on your iPhone if you don’t have perfect vision.
A music magazine seems like a ripe place to really make your iPad mark and Guitarist fails in that area, too. Guitarist bundles a CD with their paper magazines and now that content is also published online for subscriber access.
You have to login to — vault.guitarist.co.uk — if you want to download the multimedia files, and that includes iOS subscribers on the iPhone and iPad. The video and audio content is brilliantly produced and entirely delightful.
You aren’t given immediate access to your content. The website has no clue what your registration status is on your iOS device, so you have to answer some silly “fill-in-the-blank” questions for each issue based on the content you downloaded on your iOS device.
I want to know why Guitarist doesn’t embed these multimedia files as part of the iPad subscription model? Why no hyperlinks to other Guitarist content? Why can’t we listen to samples and watch video snippets right on our iOS devices? Why are we forced to put down our subscription device and go online and download the content there one-by-one instead of all-at-once on the iPad?
Music magazines on the iPad are a natural fit, but it will take a lot more ingenuity to make it a memorable experience than Guitarist magazine provides its current iOS subscribers.