Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Boomers Will Like the Interactive RollingStone 500 Greatest Song Issue

In my last blog post, I talked about RollingStone Magazine's interactive issue, which users can download for the iPad through the Zinio app. What sets this magazine apart is the clever way it is designed to take advantage of the interactive features of the iPad. Here's how you get it. First download the free Zinio App from the App store. When you open the Zinio App, you'll find a "store" inside. Inside the store, there is a listing for interactive magazines. Choose the RollingStone 500 Greatest Songs of All Times Issue.

You'll have to give Zinio a credit card number to get this app, but once you download it and pay the $9.99, a  hefty price for an app, you get a magazine chock full of information. There are a couple of feature stories such as this interview with Leiber and Stoller,

and short articles about each of the songs and artists chosen, as well as a way to listen to 30 seconds of each song.

The number one designated song in the magazine is  Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan, and next to it are icons for reading about it, listening to 30 seconds of it, and buying it.

In fact, many of the top 500 songs will be familiar to Baby Boomers and come from artists we know and love like the Beatles, John Lennon , The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and The Beach Boys. The app easy to use and fun to listen to.

What's significant about the magazine is the spirit of discovery that it encourages. You are only wasting 30 seconds of your time if you tap on an unfamiliar song and don't like it, so you keep on tapping. That's when I found out that all hip hop wasn't created equal. Number 51 on the list, right next to The Tracks of My Tears by Smokey Robinson, was The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. I listened to 30 seconds of it and I liked it. If I choose to download it, it will be the first hip hop song ever on my iPod and iPad. And that's exactly what Apple, Zinio, and RollingStone are counting on.

Going through these 500 songs will be a journey of discovery for many of us. If you are like me, you missed some of the songs of the 80s and 90s. By that time I had ventured into Jazz and other venues. But I am open to all kinds of music. So if I find something I like in this journey, I'll probably buy it from the iTunes store, which is conveniently linked to the app. You do have to re-sign in to the iTunes store to purchase the songs, but actually, it's genius. Once again Apple has found a way to part me from my money! I'd definitely like to know how many songs were processed through the iTunes store from people who bought the RollingStone magazine. I'll bet it's impressive!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Download those Magazines Boomers!

If you have an iPad, you may want to download some of the newest e-magazines that were designed just for this platform. Or you can get replicas of current magazines and read them in the iPad's format. Since the iPad is a beautiful venue for looking at pictures, magazine art stands out on the device.

Prior to a recent trip to the West Coast I loaded my iPad with a few e-magazines to see how I would enjoy them. Well, I did enjoy them, but I was unable to enjoy most of them on the airplane! Almost every e-magazine I tried had a downloadable or interactive component. That means that the same thing that keeps these magazines interesting, keeps people from reading them on an airplane where you can't turn on your cellular service during flight!  I learned a real world lesson about how e-magazines work on today's iPad.

As I said in a recent post, I do have a beef with Apple. Magazines need a category of their own in the App store. Not all of the magazines available come up if you plug in the keyword "Magazine" into the search engine. I understand that Apple and magazine publishers are feuding about subscriptions on the iPad. Magazine publishers want to offer them, but Apple just wants people to download each individual issue and pay the price. Maybe that's why Apple is being so user "unfriendly" about magazines on its site.

Anyway, I did manage to download some of the magazines now available and I also downloaded magazines from two what I call "gateway apps": Magcloud and Zinio. Magcloud and Zinio are magazine stands of sorts, and let you download issues, most for a price, although a number of beautiful magazines like some Life Magazine titles are free.

In a very interesting move, Rolling Stone just put out a $9.99 special issue through Zinio on the iPad that includes articles, but also plays 30 seconds of each and every of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."  You can also download the complete songs, for a price, if there is something you want to play on your iPad. I plan to download the magazine, and report back to you next time on how I liked it. Of course, this is a very clever, yet entertaining, way to part people from their money, since once you hear 30 seconds of those songs, you are probably going to buy them if you don't have them.

That being said, some magazine publishers have gone their own way and are issuing individual apps for the iPad. Here is an example of the app for the sample issue of Sports Illustrated and a screen shot of two of its pages, including one that tells you how to navigate through the app. I've also pasted a screen shot from the cover of the Vanity Fair app.

When I was reading through reviews at the app store, some subscribers to Glamour's free iPad app were  disappointed that once they downloaded the app, they had to pay for the actual e-magazine. And some subscribers to the print version were upset they they were being asked to pay twice for the same information.

If you do decide to give downloading magazines a try, let me know what you think both about the e-magazines you've read and what you think about the issues brought up by reviewers. If you have a subscription to the print magazine, should you have to pay for the iPad version?