Back in 2010, I said good-bye to paper and started moving all my magazine subscriptions to digital versions on an iPad. Here's an update on how that project went. Hint: the technology didn't develop well, and I'm is going back to paper. For now.
In September of that year, I wrote:
... I’ve started a pilot project to eliminate most of my paper magazine subscriptions and convert to digital format on the iPad. Of course, this has been possible previously on the Mac in some cases, but the size and portability of the iPad creates a critical psychological mass that allows one to take such a project more seriously.
In the course of this project, I made some assumptions that the technology of magazines on an iPad would smooth out any wrinkles, and I'd be off and running in a glorious paperless future.
It didn't turn out that way.
What Went Wrong?
Here's what happened to me.
1. The iPad's 9.7 inch display a tad too small for a standard magazine as it's often laid out, especially if the PDF format is adhered to. This calls for imaginative presentation, which is seldom done well. More on that below.
2. Out of sight, out of mind. This is a big one. When a paper magazine is on a coffee or breakfast table, it's on your mind. That same cover that was designed to lure you into buying at the newsstand does its job reminding you to read at home.
On the iPad, you must typically launch an app like Apple's Newsstand or Zinio, navigate past possible ads (unless you set the right preference), select the magazine, then select the issue. At this point, in some cases, you might also have to wait for the digital magazine to download on first reading. This nesting, the out of sight, out of mind factor and the time delay before you can start reading creates friction and disincentive.
I would love to have a dedicated iPad home page of just magazine issue icons in an array. The current issue would always be on top and the one I get when I tap. But that's not likely to happen any time soon.
Next: Yet more problems.