Zinio on the iPad Review - Why magazine apps are falling behind

Image representing Zinio as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase
When I first saw the Apple iPad in action, I could not wait to see what publishers would have in store for their native applications. I imagined those moving pictures and cool animations as depicted in Harry Potter movies. Unfortunately, while some magazines such as Popular Science have excelled in engaging the reader in the new medium, and others such as GQ have managed to deliver content at a reasonable price ($2.99 per issue), others have begun their iPad journey with either lackluster innovation, a high price tag ($5.99 for SI, really?), or both (e.g. Time). This led me to Zinio.

Zinio's Library
Think of Zinio as your personal magazine rack, holder, and recycling bin all in one. You can peruse the store for new magazines, browse through samples of many top selling publications, and purchase an issue after setting up an account. Your new magazines are then downloaded to your iPad, and subscriptions are automatically updated when the newest issue arrives. You can choose to delete items when your library gets a bit large, and you can always add more (until you reach your iPad's capacity - each magazine takes up between 10-60 megabytes of space). I've found a decent selection of magazines for reasonable prices (I've been sucked into buying several for less than $10 for the year). My current library includes ESPN the Magazine, PC Magazine, and Popular Photography. OK, you got me, Maxim's in there too.

Zinio's features
Make no mistake, Zinio is not necessarily an innovative application. There is no streaming video or moving parts in these magazines. Essentially, the app is a PDF reader, with your magazines being the PDF's. However, before you go storming off to the App Store in search of "real" magazine apps, keep this in mind: Zinio does what it's supposed to do, and it does it well. Once downloaded, you can tap on links within a table of contents, and instantly be taken to the article's page. There are also web links that can be opened in a built-in browser or switched over to Safari. Pinch and Tap zooming in and out works well, and you'll need to do this often, as the print for the full page views can be quite small. Even with this in mind, the interface is smooth, and the text sharpens quickly for a 1X-2X zoom. I also love the pictorial table of contents that can be accessed at any time by tapping the bottom of the screen.

Zinio's future
Although I had not heard of it until purchasing the iPad, I got the sense that Zinio had a reasonably strong following prior to its iPad release. I'd be quite surprised if Zinio's popularity has not skyrocketed since the iPad's release. Currently, it is the best combination of price and quality for viewing publications on the iPad. As mentioned in an earlier iPad post, I don't envision using my iPad to read books, but I do see a strong future for magazines. And until the big publishers start issuing more reasonably priced subscriptions, Zinio seems well suited to reap the benefits of new customers looking for ways to reduce their clutter (paper copies) and have easy access to magazines for lower prices.

Zinio is available for free in the App Store.


Unknown said…
Hi! I'm Jeanniey, the Zinio CMO. Thank you so much for your thoughtful review! One of the comments you list is tht Zinio doesnt have any dynamic magazines - and in fact we do have over 50 issues with multi-media and dynamic elements. Please, send me your email and i will make sure they land in your library so you can get the full experience of how Zinio is working with publishers to create something great for the iPad. My email is jmullen@zinio.com, or im @empg on Twitter.

chanatown said…
Thanks Jeanniey - I look forward to checking out those titles, and I will make an updated post discussing the multimedia and dynamic elements.

Unknown said…
The Zinio software is terrible. There are many known download and service issues. My application on my PC stopped working only a few months after subscribing to three issues. An upgrade failed midway during install resulting in the entire program (and subscriptions) missing.

But the bottom line is that overall costs the same for the paper subscriptions and they're much easier and enjoyable to read.
chanatown said…
I haven't used the app on my PC, but on the iPad, it seems to have achieved stability after some initial hiccups.

I agree that the cost is comparable to the paper subscription, but one could argue that having them on the PC and/or iPad would be more convenient than toting around all the paper copies.

Thanks for the comment.
I've downloaded zinio for ipad and the layout is very good, the selection is fine but I don't understand the pricing structure in the UK. For example New Scientist (a general science publication in the UK) is £3.99 on Zinio but £3.50 at the news stand.
I don't mind parity but I'm not prepared to more for a PDF.

All the best

Robert Clare

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