For the last few years, magazines have moved their issues online as simple PDFs or as HTML. Shelter (aka home design) magazines have made their debut into the digital world in an even bigger way. Using technology from online hosts such as Issuu, shelter magazines are able to publish online issues that look just like print copies. Lonny, the first in the wave of online shelter magazines, looks fantastic. The real estate blog Curbed calls the movement, “Design-Pubs-Powered-by-PDF-Flipbook-Technology-Issuu category1.”
Michelle Adams, editor in chief of Lonny, started the movement among shelter magazines. Her innovative ideas have influenced editors such as Crystal Gentilello (Rue) and (High Gloss).
Steven Kurutz of The New York Times says, “Lonny appears online,
but it is oddly identical to a traditional print publication in format, with a table of contents, recurring features and a software platform that recreates the experience of flipping a magazine’s pages.”
Many times the argument has been made that online magazines don’t have the same spirit of flipping through a print magazine, especially shelter magazines that depend greatly on images. As far as Lonny goes, it looks great.
I’m not usually one for reading magazines online because they never feel like a magazine. They always feel more like a blog. Not to discredit blogs, but anyone can set up a blog and post weekly or bi-monthly or quarterly. Bringing a digital publication to the audience that looks and (in a matter of speaking) feels like a print publication is a strategy that many other publishers could learn from.
I’m talking about the complete opposite side of the spectrum from other digital publications such as Project on the iPad. Project is all about interactivity with the reader. It’s built around the iPad, and is to be enjoyed on an LCD screen. Project is a testament to the digitization of magazine publishing—“a look at what’s in store for the future.”
Adams and the rest of the shelter magazine “classicists” don’t necessarily want readers to feel like they’re reading the magazine of the future. They’re focused on providing their readers with a good magazine. They want to preserve what was good from the shelter print magazines of old, like Domino, and hand it down to their readers in a convenient way.
Issuu gives people the ability to publish a quality product without having to go through the expenses of paper. What’s more is that Issuu is available on the Apple iPad, so these shelter magazines can be distributed through the tablet device. If eReaders are
able to support Issuu in the future, shelter magazine sales will undoubtedly rise, especially with the female audience.
The big issue is whether the interactivity of tablet devices will drive out the classic feel of a good magazine where you can flip through pages (with the click of a mouse, of course). That classic feel of “no, there isn’t a chart popping out at me or someone talking to me every time I brush my finger past an article” has a significant following, as can be seen by the success of the online shelter magazine movement on Issuu.
Thanks to this “Design-Pubs-Powered-by-Flipbook-Technology-Issuu category” movement, more and more magazines are moving into the digital market and making life easier for themselves and their loyal readers. But will the movement eventually change course with the time?