Here’s an interesting tidbit of information: A recent survey found that 43% of Americans over the age of 16 read an e-publication in 2011. That’s a significant number by any standard. What this means is that books and mags that are published electronically are gaining relevance.
Why this is can be attributed to any number of features or conveniences:
- E-publications are easier to get and manage
- Multimedia can be included in e-pubs
- It’s easier to publish electronically
- E-pubs are environmentally friendly - fewer trees are used in their creation
And the list can go on for quite some time. What about the disadvantages and inconveniences of e-publications? That list can be equally extensive.
- E-publications have no end-user permanence
- No tactile gratification with e-books or magazines
- Other non-renewable resources are used to create the devices that display e-pubs
And on the list can go.
Permanence is the thing that bothers me most and it’s a tough topic to tackle. By permanence I mean that the information we create and publish electronically have no physicality, and so can disappear far easier than a paper counterpart. There are arguments and counterarguments for and against print permanence, but my point is this: The history and knowledge of civilizations, both great and small, survive through what they’ve written. Without some record of their existence they may as well not have existed at all.
Given our current technology, electronic media depend too heavily on other dependent technologies to have any real permanence. It’s a technological house of cards that one hard drive crash or bad software update can make completely real to you.
But do we really want some greater thinking thing to assess our civilization by analyzing Playboy, Sports Illustrated, or Mad Magazine? (OK, Mad Magazine shouldn’t be on this list.)
The point here is that everything doesn’t have to have permanence, and that’s more true for magazines, which are meant to be consumed and discarded. And where better to consume and discard magazines than on your trusty iPad? Of course, most mags require paid subscription, but there are an ever growing number of freebie periodicals that may be worth your while, and I’ve discovered three.
I’ve mentioned Engadget Distro before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. Here is a weekly published e-mag that is on par with many of the paid variety. With your free subscription new issues appear in the Newsstand app automatically, but won’t download until you give it the ok. What I like too is that older issues are also listed and available for downloading.
In the mag you’ll find excellent technology oriented articles, photos, reviews, and such. It’s a compilation of the articles found weekly on Wired.com and I find them well worth a read.
There are ads in the magazine, as you might expect, but they are less intrusive than what I’ve seen in many paid-for rags.
If you enjoy tech-oriented articles then Engadget Distro is right up your alley.
Lowe’s Creative Ideas (LCI) Magazine
To me, this is the perfect use of e-publications. It’s mag designed to get you inspired so that you’ll go to Lowes and buy stuff. To do that the article must be easy to read, instructions easy to understand, and photos and diagrams easy to view and follow. LCI Magazine includes all of that and more.
Yes, it’s part catalog and part Lowes ad, but it includes tips, suggestions, lightweight how-tos, and product insights that you may not have considered. For instance, if you are looking to tile a wall LCI Magazine suggests a product called Bondera, which lets you stick the tile to the wall without the mess of mortar and start grouting immediately. How cool is that?
If you are a do-it-yourselfer then this is an e-mag for you.
You budget fashionistas need not feel neglected. Harrods has a freebie e-zine just for you.
I like how this mag is done. Movies and other multimedia is used extensively throughout and in places where you might not expect. For instance, open the current issue and an intro movie starts which turns into the front page. That’s something no printed rag can manage.
Like LCI Magazine, Harrods is part catalog, part store ad, but they do such a great job in presenting their wares that you forget its either. They even hide the prices of the items displayed. If you want to know how much it is just tap the ‘+’ and the price appears. Tapping that ‘+’ also reveals other content depending on where you are. Recipes, movies and more appear, adding dimension few other magazines can match. Pretty cool.
The only downside is that Harrods requires a constant Internet connection, so those of you with WiFi only iPads get no joy away from the Web. Even so, you’ll want to subscribe. It’s that good.
That’s a wrap for this week. More free publication apps below with direct links.
NOTE: While the apps are free some require paid subscriptions.