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Recap: SPD Tablet Town Hall

Many thanks to Steve Hart from Adobe and Shawn Duffy from WoodWing for an amazing Society of Publication Designers event last night at the Helen Mills Theater in Manhattan, where a capacity crowd had the opportunity to query experts from both companies about their tablet publishing offerings. Some of the takeaways:

• The WoodWing-Adobe partnership creates a single standard for publishing magazines on the tablet. Adobe DIgital Publishing System (DPS) enables content creators large and small to produce dynamic apps with minimal programming. WoodWing enhances that system by adding a way to manage content, distribute work among multiple users and enhance creativity through InDesign plug-ins that simplify complicated programming.

• Adobe announced that all three versions of its DPS are now available for sale:

Single Edition enables anyone with InDesign to buy a $395 encryption key from Adobe's website that enables them to publish a single iPad app to the iTunes Store. At this point it is iPad-only, non-updatable and analytics-free, but nonetheless a breakthrough product that makes tablet publishing accessible to the masses.

Professional Edition is available for a $495 monthly subscription or a $5,940 annual fee. It allows publishers to create an unlimited number of updatable apps for the iPad, Android, PlayBook and — drumroll please — the Amazon Kindle Fire. These apps consist of standalone apps in which content is bundled and sold through app stores, and shell apps published to stores and individual issues that are downloaded from Adobe's servers for an additional fee. Both types include access to analytics that track user flow, providing valuable information for designers, publishers and advertisers alike.

Enterprise Edition is the Swiss Army knife of DPS systems, with enhanced subscription options and pricing based on the publisher's specific requirements.

• The audience was just as interesting as the panelists, and their questions were enlightening. There seems to be growing interest in publishing apps outside of the app stores — primarily for businesses looking to promote themselves, companies that seek more effective ways to disseminate information to a targeted audience, and enterprises that need to ensure that their content is secure. Hart suggested that Adobe will address this need in upcoming releases of DPS.

• A show of hands indicated that most of the audience came from large publishing companies that already had platforms in place — roughly 35 percent were WoodWing and 65 percent were Adobe. When asked how many in the crowd would be interested in training resources, the response was nearly unanimous. Joe Zeff Design will be working with the companies and SPD to identify ways to deliver that training — not just how to build apps but why to build apps and how to build better apps — in the near term. Stay tuned!

• There is considerable anticipation for the Amazon Kindle Fire, shipping next week, and expectations that its underpinnings in e-commerce will spawn a second revolution in tablet publishing with enhanced monetization opportunities.

• Once again, thanks to Tekserve for donating an iPad 2 that was won by Amy Jaffe, an art director. Many thanks to our partners at Tekserve, as well as the Indefatigable Emily Smith at SPD for organizing yet another amazing event!

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