QuarkXPress 9 Targets Epub, Digital Magazines

Quark unveiled QuarkXPress 9 on Wednesday, with a focus that takes the professional page layout application into the digital publishing world. The company is hoping to attract designers and publishers that need to create ebooks, digital magazines and other electronic publications, and introduced App Studio to help designers build iPad content apps without requiring coding skills.

Quark first introduced App Studio in January. The feature lets graphic designers build custom iPad magazine apps that support one-off content or multiple issues. Users can export their interactive magazine layouts for their apps directly from QuarkXPress without requiring any followup work ahead of publishing.

App Studio won’t, however, be available when QuarkXPress 9 ships. Instead, users will have to wait about 90 days after the launch for a free update that adds in the App Studio features. Until then, users can take advantage of Quark’s iPad Publishing Service to build their apps and publish content.

QuarkXPress 9

Quark is also pushing epub, or digital book, publishing with the new version of QuarkXPress. Along with that move, Quark has teamed with Blio so users can export ebooks in the Blio multimedia ereader format.

Unfortunately, Blio is currently a Windows-only product, but the company says it has plans to build a Mac version of its reader some time this year. An iOS-compatible version of the Blio reader is apparently awaiting App Store approval.

QuarkXPress 9 also finally gets a true story editor feature, added conditional styles, improved list numbering and bullet, added a Callouts feature that lets users link objects so they move automatically with text while maintaining their relative position. The new version also rolls in the venerable Linkster XTension that in earlier versions was an add-on. The feature gives users more control over how text boxes are linked and unlinked, and can unlink text boxes without causing reflow.

QuarkXPress 9 is expected to ship in April for US$799. Upgrades for QuarkXPress 7 and 8 will cost $299. Upgrades for copies of QuarkXPress 8 bought after February 23, 2011 are free.