Are Magazine Apps Dead?

Magazine industry veteran Robert Newman posed this question to several influential people working at the intersection of digital media and print magazines. The results are very insightful. Here’s a sampling:

Josh Klenert, Executive Director in the Digital Customer Experience team for JPMorgan Chase:

A lot of what was done in wave 1 of app magazines ignored the lessons of web over the last 20+ years. I am incredibly optimistic about magazine-like storytelling on digital devices, but binding them to print production cycles in monolithic downloads must evolve. I think that’s why we’re starting to see lots of robust feature-length stories told directly on the web in responsive web packaging.

David Jacobs of 29th Street Publishing:

What we have learned is that the replica will never be successful. Consumers have soundly rejected them: digital subscriptions make up only 3% of total subscriptions. But I am of course optimistic about the future of magazine apps, since the industry has an opportunity for a reboot.

Joe Zeff of Joe Zeff Design:

I wouldn’t say that magazine apps are dead, but that they are in dire need of a transfusion. I continue to be optimistic because there’s no stopping the proliferation of tablets. There will continue to be a market for applications built specifically for these devices.

Mario García of García Media:

We still see a lot of static, turn-the-page-type of magazine apps. We need to begin to look at the tablet’s peculiarities, to what it can do, and then exploit that. It is not a print publication per se. It is a combination of book, film documentary, a little TV, some radio. It is multisensory, and we have not explored that fully yet. It is also the closest we can come, so far, to a digital experience that matches a lot of the intuitive movements that we are familiar with via print.

Jeremy Leslie of magCulture:

The initial excitement across the industry, from publishers and creatives, has subsided as the reality of making apps hit home. From a business point of view the promise of easily slipping app production into the print workflow was foolishly naive, while editors and designers who were keen to experiment soon found themselves stretched too thin. On top of this, sales have been disappointing so most apps have reverted to simpler replicas as a holding pattern while publishers work out next steps.

Read the full article at Newman’s site.


Please, Don’t Be a Dick

London-based brand consultancy studio We Are Goat wrote this book for working with designers, aimed at clients. You can buy a copy here.

Please, Don’t Be a Dick
Cover for We Are Goat’s “Please, Don’t Be a Dick”

At first glance, I was actually under the mistaken impression that it was a book written by a client who had had a lot of experience working with studios and agencies, dispensing advice to designers at large on how best to work with clients. That is, I thought the message was coming from the other side — from experienced clients and targeted at designers who are, well, dicks. Trust me, there are plenty of them on both sides of the equation.


New York Numbers

Advertising copywriter Nick Dilallo takes pictures of interesting numbers he finds throughout New York City and posts them to his Instagram account. Personally, my favorites are all of the aging, weathered sans-serif numbers in the Modernist style.

This one is not so vintage, but I think it’s fantastic:

I asked Nick what inspired this project; it’s the kind of thing you’d expect from a typographer but not necessarily a copywriter. He told me:

I take the photos myself — on my walk to work, on lunch breaks, on weekend adventures around different New York neighborhoods. I’m definitely not a photographer by trade; I’m a copywriter at an advertising agency here in New York. But I studied economics & mathematics in college, so I’m a bit of a numbers geek at heart. I how together they represent the diversity of New York. The different colors, typefaces, carvings, and positionings. Each photo tells a little story. And together, they tell the story of New York.

You can follow New York Numbers on Instagram.


Weather Underground Redesigns

Earlier this week, 19-year old(!) weather site Weather Underground launched its biggest ever redesign. I make note of it here because I’ve been visiting this resource on a daily basis for at least fifteen years; it’s been an integral part of my morning routine for as long as I can remember, and I’m very grateful for it. The company posted a tour of the redesign — which is a big step forward from the previous version — here. It includes a timeline at the bottom that lets you browse some of the previous designs, none of which were as major as this new one. Congratulations to the team.


Sketch 3 Released

Following up on my post from a few weeks ago, Sketch 3 was released yesterday. This video from Bohemian Coding provides a pretty comprehensive overview of the app, and it has a winning soundtrack, to boot.

Version 3’s debut also occasions a free episode of Rafael Conde’s SketchCasts that focuses on what’s new. And designer Jean-Marc Denis has an overview at Medium that includes several video clips demonstrating the new features.

The upgrade is US$49.95 from the Mac App Store.


Car UX

Automotive user experience design is a field that seems poised to change dramatically in the coming decade as the “Internet of things” invades car interiors. To that end, user experience designer Min Seung Song is collecting images of the user experience details of contemporary automobiles. It’s a fascinating survey of the relative sameness of auto components and how little details can nevertheless make them look so unique from one another.

See the full collection at


New York City’s Lost Type District

A nifty bit of detective work from Tobias Frere-Jones.

I was able to plot out the locations for every foundry that had been active in New York between 1828 (the earliest records I could find with addresses) to 1909. All of the buildings have been demolished, and in some cases the entire street has since been erased. But a startling picture still emerged: New York once had a neighborhood for typography.

Read the full article at Slate.


Not Coming to a Theater Near You, 2013 Review

Not Coming to a Theater Near You, “a film resource that assumes a bias towards older and classic cinema,” is wonderfully designed by editor Rumsey Taylor. Their Two–Thousand Thirteen in Review is a superbly faithful digital translation of the independent magazine publishing style — it very nearly reproduces the physical grit of a brainy, obscure arts journal, printed in two ink colors on thick, uncoated paper stock, and sold in a West Village bookshop staffed by strung out philosophy majors.

Via Typewolf, which helpfully identifies the fonts used.