300% more readers with iPad Magazine App

Cover of winter 2012 edition of British Journal of Photography featuring an exclusive video shoot with Natalie PortmanRemember how Jason Pontin of Technology Review wrote “Why Publishers Don’t Like Apps“? This is the story of a publisher who does: 150 year old photo magazine British Journal of Photography (BJP) published their iPad magazine app in September 2011. Today, some eight months later, it has more than 150,000 downloads, 300% more readers than the print edition and 50% higher advertising yields. The investment? Two new staff members and Mag+ fees for publishing.

The print edition of BJP dates back to 1854, and was a weekly publication until 2010, when it went to a monthly glossy magazine. By that time, the first iPad had been released and the idea of BJP’s iPad app was born.

With a brand new tablet in hand, the readers are happy with almost any content – even with replicas of print editions, but the team at Incisive Media (the publishers of BJP) didn’t believe that this would last. They thought that once the novelty of owning a iPad had subsided, tablet users would demand content that took advantage of the high resolution screens and interaction possibilities of devices.

The team at Incisive Media (the publishers of BJP) had a wish list for the features of the platform they would create their app magazine with.

They wanted a platform rich in features while enabling short production times that didn’t require learning a whole new set of tools. It should also be cost efficient and available on hand. They also wanted to be able to publish to multiple platforms; while the iPad edition was priority, the possibility to publish on other platforms such as Android tablets was important.

Incisive Media thought found their platform, and in April 2011 they were well on their way to creating the tablet edition of British Journal of Photography, scheduled for a June release. That was when they ran into a problem: they found Mag+!

Fact is, the team at Incisive Media liked the Mag+ platform so much they decided to push back the release to September 2011 so that they could build the tablet magazine they really wanted. One of the things they really liked was the possibility to embed HTML5 objects.

The whole process and workflow of Mag+ was attractive; it’s a plugin for InDesign, a tool that the team at Incisive Media were already using. The designers could see their design edits in real time on their iPads with a push of a button. BJP has a rule about photos: “never crop, never adjust, never obscure” which makes it impossible to make a great publication without having both horizontal and vertical layout. With Mag+ tools the designers only had to set the pages once for both orientations.

Mag+ pricing was also very transparent. There are no initial costs for the software, no hidden costs and users don’t pay until their design is finished and they actually hit the publish button. It made it easier to get  a real sense of how much production would cost them in the long term.

Once created and launched, BJP’s iPad magazine app quickly became a huge success. BJP almost immediately topped the Appstore charts and was named “New and Noteworthy” by Apple, “Top European App 2011″ by iMonitor and won “Best Use of Mobile” in the British Media Awards 2012.

Before the iPad edtion, BJP’s print edition had some 8,000 subscribers mainly in the UK. The iPad app has so far been downloaded over 150,000 times. The advertisers have recognized the success, with blue chip advertisers like Absolut Vodka, Samsung, Nikon and Hasselblad jumping on board – increasing advertising yield with 50% compared to the print edition.

The iPad edition is custom made, and contains material that couldn’t exist in print. The cover of issue #2 features not only a photo of Natalie Portman, but a video as well:

British Journal of Photography can be downloaded in Apple Appstore.

More information about creating an iPad magazine app with Mag+