I’m a magazine fan. News has its place, books have their place, but in a nice niche in between there lies the magazine: Current but not daily, engrossing but readable in a couple hours, and often possessing a more beautiful design than either of the other two.
I find out things from magazines that just don’t hear about anywhere else. Did you know that the tiny town of Montague in PEI is currently hosting thousands of new Buddhist monks (as residents)? If you read the latest Maisonneuve magazine, you would. Or from Utne Reader, the benefits of a zero-growth economy based on negative-interest dollars, which actually have existed in history. And, OK, I did know that Windows 8 was unpopular, but had never heard that analyzed as being because its tablet / PC design made it “the mullet of operating systems”, as Wired did.
Maisonneuve, I subscribe to on paper, along with The Walrus, Nutrition Action Newsletter, and Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Utne Reader, Wired, and several others, though, I read electronically, on my tablet.
To do so, I use one of two apps: Zinio or Google Play Magazines. Both give you pretty much the same layout as you’d get on paper, only in scrollable, zoom-able form. The apps are free, but the magazines themselves, in most cases, are not. [Although more on that later…]
Zinio’s been around longer and has a bigger catalog, including a lot of back issues, which can be nice sometimes. Subscriptions are almost always a better deal than single issues, but single issues can be a relative bargain compared to paper, particularly with foreign magazine. Uncut (which is British) is around $15 on the newsstand, and about $5 at Zinio. For magazines that don’t have to travel so far, though, savings are usually a lot more modest. (And some major magazines, it should be noted, are only available for Apple iPads.)
Update to below paragraph: This week, Zinio on Android offered an update that solves the zoom problem! I can now change pages while zoomed. I have to say, given their other features, this now gives them the overall technical advantage over Google Play. Stay tuned..
[ The main advantage I’ve found with the Google Play magazines is that I can swipe to the next page while pages are zoomed. With Zinio, I have to scrunch the page back to “normal” size before I can swipe. Given that I have to zoom pretty much every page (anything less than a 10″ tablet, I think, wouldn’t really work at all for magazines), the Google Play ones are a time-saver. Google Play does lack some of the features of Zinio that are on occasion useful, however, such as the ability to bookmark pages, and to print (with watermark) them or send them to email, EverNote, DropBox, or whatever. ]
Neither, it seems to me, really takes advantage of the possibilities offered by being on a web-enabled medium, such as embedding video or streaming music. (The paper version of Uncut, for example, typically comes with a CD, but in the E version, you just don’t get the songs.) Only the text links are enabled. On the other hand, you aren’t web-dependent. Once downloaded, you can read the magazine while your device is offline.
Recently, Waterloo Public Library (WPL) announced the availability of Zinio magazines through them. I tried it out last weekend. It requires three logins: The expected one with your library card number (which I already had), a new one that grants access to the WPL catalog of magazines in particular, then a Zinio account (which I already had).
Once in, though, it’s quite a large catalog of magazines they have. And, unlike eBooks, which stop working on your device after the loan period of 1 to 3 weeks, the selected magazines don’t appear to have expiry dates. Guess I’ll know for sure in a couple weeks, but the library advertises “no holds and no returns!” So I’m not sure I get the business model here, on behalf of Zinio or the magazine publishers.
But let’s just say, to me, it’s well worth the triple login. Happy reading!