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Rogers’ Next Issue e-magazine interface is pretty nice (dammit)

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Rogers recently launched Next Issue, yet another e-magazine option. The big difference between it and the ones I already use, Zinio and Google Play, is that you pay a monthly fee, and then you can download and read as many of their magazines as you want. That fee is $10 month for access to monthly magazines, $15 to also access weeklies.

Obviously that’s $120 to $180 a year (though yes, you can cancel at any time). As I already subscribe to a number of magazines individually, either on paper or digital, I thought it might be worthwhile if those were included.

Alas, it currently includes only one of my current subscriptions: Wired. So no Walrus, Maisonneuve, Pacific Standard, Bitch (Feminist response to popular culture), Nutrition Action Newsletter, or This Magazine. (The full list of what they do offer is here.) But despite already concluding it wouldn’t be worth the money, I decided to try their free two-month trial (one-month trial if you’re not a Rogers customer).

So I have to grant this: It’s a really nicely designed app. Once you download it and sign in (you can use your Rogers online account, if you have one), you get a list of the all the magazines they carry. You then tap on the ones you think you’ll be most interested in reading. (You can, of course, always change your list.) On future logins, just those magazines appear for selection, initially.

Next issue interface

You then tap on any of those to get a view of available current and past issues (seems to be up to a year’s worth, or so). You “long-press” any issues you want to read and they downloaded, as indicated by a pin icon. In the same way, you can unpin when you’re done.

It’s all very easy—you get text guidance through this process—and admittedly more fun, as you don’t have the checkout process at as the end, as you would with individual purchases in Zinio or the Google Play store.

As for actual reading, that’s pretty nice, too. How nice depends on the publisher. For example:

  • Entertainment Weekly—not available on Zinio or Play—was the best. They scale each page to fit nicely on a 10-inch tablet; no zooming required. When there is more content than can practically fit, you get little scroll up and down icons on the page you can use to see more. They also have links to videos with star interviews and fun things like that.
  • Cooking Light takes a similar “no-zoom, just scroll” approach to presenting pages, with little arrows making it clear that’s what you need to do. They also have easy links to their website with more recipes and food information.
  • Maclean’s is pretty basic, just presenting the pages at actual size, so you have to scroll down to the bottom if you want.
  • Rolling Stone still requires zooming, and doesn’t seem to include any neat interactive stuff.

For navigating through, the app offers a bar at the bottom, and if you click it correctly, you get a interactive mini-view of all the pages of the magazine that you can “flip” through for the one you want. That’s also kind of fun. (Though purely in practical terms, Zinio’s tile view of pages and popup table of contents might actually be easier to select from.)

Next Issue also use on up to five devices, and is supported on Android, iOs, and Windows 8. That’s less useful for my husband, who has a Blackberry tablet and a Windows 7 PC. So we’re not able to practically share an account in this household, until some upgrading happens.

Would also note that Rogers has now removed the magazines it publishes—such as Maclean’s, Chatelaine, and MoneySense—from Zinio (though they still seem to be in Google Play Store, at this point). That’s a bummer because that also removes them from the library version of Zinio, which made them free!

Even with those omissions, Zinio still has the bigger selection of magazines, with some libraries (like mine) making many of them free. It’s also the only one with a bookmark and share feature, both of which can be pretty handy. And it works on Blackberry, and has a desktop version (which I rarely use, but Jean does).

But just on the fun factor, gotta say Next Issue wins. Just not sure it’s worth $120+ more to Rogers from me, just yet.

Another post I found on this, comparing Zinio, Next Issue, and Apple’s Newstand.

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