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Reinventing Your Publication for the Tablet

The WoodWing World Tour docked in San Francisco yesterday, with a report from the company's leadership about ongoing enhancements to its Digital Magazine Tools; Roger Black's take on where tablet publishing may be headed; Rebecca McPheters' statistical analysis of the marketplace; and much more. The Amsterdam-based software company showed off its latest additions, including a set of HTML5 widgets that provides publishers with a way to add custom programming to their apps. WoodWing now supports iOS, Android 2 and 3, HP's WebOS, Google Chrome, with BlackBerry PlayBook compatibility in the works.

All of the presentations are available for download at WoodWing's community site, including ours: "Reinventing your Publication for the Tablet." An abridged version appears below:

Let's start by defining what a publication is, or what it was on January 26, 2010.

At that time, there were clear differences between types of content.

All of that changed on January 27, when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad. In doing so, he started the process of reinventing your publication. Going forward, all content will be digital, blurring the lines between categories.

And how do we create that revenue?

Monetize digital content through an iTunes store with 200 million one-click customers. As Steve Jobs pointed out last week, Apple has paid out $2 billion to its iPhone and iPad developers. • Create new advertising opportunities, such as sponsorship models in which advertisers bankroll an entire publication. • Build (and rebuild) relationships. With iPad 2s landing tomorrow, millions of hand-me-downs will find their way into children's hands, seeding the customer base of the future. Meanwhile, boomers who had fallen out of love with print are poised to fall back in love with their favorite brands. • Assert market position. It's a new marketplace in which independent publishers like TRVL can leapfrog over established brands. Publications are charged with transferring their revenue streams to the digital marketplace — before someone else beats them to it. • Extend brands. Standalone apps turn publications into extendable brands that transcend single-issue or subscription sales.

With those goals in mind, let's start the reinvention process.


Step 1: Determine your approach

This is the model of turning PDFs into apps, with little modification. The upside: Easiest and cheapest. Downside: It establishes low expectations among consumers for your brand.

Sell your cookbook by the recipe. Dig through your archives and bundle related content into new apps. Follow Vogue's example of turning its Lady Gaga cover story into a standalone app subsidized by MAC Cosmetics.

This is what most print magazines are doing today — adding multimedia to their existing content.

Vrroooom! See Marie Claire's Fall Fashion A to Z app, Entertainment Weekly's Must List and 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic for inspiration. These extensions enhance the value of each brand.

So there you have four content models. Let's review some potential business models:

$4.99 the new $99.99? Take a look at the new GarageBand app that goes on sale tomorrow. Ditto for the iMovie app. Apple leads by example, producing high-quality apps at the lowest possible pricing. Each is five bucks.


Step 2: Define your technology

Michel Elings of TRVL offered another idea during the Q&A to help get the word out about your app: Develop a version for the Mac App Store in order to reach its giant user base. Maybe it's free, and used to lure people to the iTunes Store to buy an expanded version for the iPad.

iPad, iPad, iPad . . . what about the other tablets?

So there you have it.


Step 3: Assemble your team


Step 4: Optimize your product

It used to be that users could interact with your publication in two ways: Read the words and look at the pictures. Now there are many other possibilities, including e-commerce.

WoodWing provides tools to deliver those capabilities, and using its new HTML widgets, one could conceivably add forms, polls, animations, rotatable objects, scalable type, games, newsfeeds, location awareness, and more.

But regardless of how many bells and widgets one deploys, there's no substitute for quality content to engage the consumer, and quality design to make that content as attractive and accessible as possible.


Step 5: Recognize your challenges