Future Sees iPad As A Bookazine Vehicle For Now

As magazine publishers unfold the tablet opportunity, Future is going large, but not yet going long.

It’s unveiled 14 new titles for iPad, each a tablet-specific niche brand that hadn’t existed in print. But each is a timeless one-off, designed to attract a large number of single-copy sales this coming New Year.

Any decision on a regular long-term tablet publishing schedule for Future’s monthly titles will come after these one-offs, perhaps hinting at how publishers are having to find a cost-effective iPad production timetable before going forward. It means Future’s tablet strategy looks a lot like its roster of specialist “bookazine” one-offs, which increasingly grace newsagent shelves.

“We think there is a potentially valuable market for one-offs on iPads,” Future’s UK CEO Mark Wood told paidContent:UK in an interview. “Our initial target is the Christmas market, especially as the iPad will be the gift of choice for a lot of people, especially in the US.

“Going beyond the holiday period, we think these special editions have a long shelf life and are an ideal way to introduce new readers to specialist subject matter and therefore on-sell our magazines (physical or digital). So we will continue to roll out special one-off editions.”

Future does already publish 50 of its printed monthly magazines on iPad, but they are digital replicas distributed through Zinio – probably the cheapest and least natural way to present on the device. As for tablet-specific editions, Future has so far outed two iPad-native editions of its T3 gadget mag; Wood declares himself “very happy with the take-up”.

“As well as the one-offs we will be developing interactive versions of our magazines where we see potential demand,” Wood tells paidContent:UK. “We will look to see which ones are generating most interest (on Zinio) so we can get a feel for market potential.

What we won’t do is over-invest in lots of fancy multi-media gizmos only to see that sales and subscriptions fail to cover the cost. The intention is to generate revenues from the new platforms and utilise them to reach new audiences.”

In other words, sales from this initial wave of iPad one-offs could fund a full tablet publishing strategy for certain titles later on.

Here are the new titles, and the print teams responsible for them…

— The 50 Best Guitars To Play Before You Die (Guitarist)
— Best Landscape Photos (Digital Camera World)
— 101 Best Movies Of All Time (NYSE: TWX) (Total Film)
— 200 Best Rock Albums of the 70s (Classic Rock)
— Sportsbike Legends (Fast Bikes)
— Photographer of the Year (Digital Camera)
— 25 Guitarist Wallpapers (Guitarist)
— Make The Most of Your Mac (MacFormat)
— The Essential iPhone 4 Handbook (MacFormat)
— iPad: The Essential Handbook (MacFormat)
— Doctor Who – A Celebration (SFX)
— ProCyling/Zinio
— MacFormat/Zinio
— Digital Camera World/Zinio