Zinio brings digital magazines to iPad, iPhone, PC and Mac for one price

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iPad and digital magazinesIf you like to read magazines and aren't tied to reading them on a sheet of glossy paper, we have good news for you. The launch of the iPad has opened up exciting opportunities for magazines to offer digital versions and provided publishers will a renewed incentive to offer a more portable and interactive product.
Some magazines, like Men's Health and Popular Science, have rolled out their own apps that let you read digital issues on the iPad with special features, but these issues are tied to your iPad or iPhone.

Zinio, on the other hand, offers a one stop shop for digital magazines with more than 2,400 titles and more than 50,000 issues that can be read on an iPhone, iPad, Windows PC, Linux or Mac with a single purchase or subscription.

The Zinio app, which has seen a surge in downloads since the iPad launched, provides users with a magazine rack to keep their issues, and offers individual issues and subscriptions to many popular magazines for about the same price as a printed subscription. Most of the purchases, 90%, on Zinio are for annual subscriptions, and it's a no-brainer especially when a yearlong subscription is less than the cost of two single issues.
A small sample of notable magazines available on Zinio (subscriptions are 12 issues and one year unless otherwise noted):
  • Esquire - $4.99 single issue, $8 digital subscription
  • Natural Geographic- $5.99 single issue, $16.50 digital subscription
  • Cosmopolitan - $4.29 single issue, $15 digital subscription
  • The Economist - $6.99 single issue, $126.99 digital subscription (51 issues)
  • Car and Driver - $4.99 single issue, $8 digital subscription
  • Smithsonian - $3.99 single issue, $12 digital subscription
  • Oprah - $4.50 single issue, $18 digital subscription
  • Macworld - $6.99 single issue, $19.97 digital subscription
If you're looking to save a bundle buying digital magazines, think again. These aren't just made up of a pdf image of the printed page you're holding in your hand, and thus don't come with a digital discount. That said, you will pay about the same price for a digital issue or subscription as you would in print. When you consider the new features some magazines like VIV and Popular Science are including as well as the portability and readability of these issues the price is fair.

Speaking of readability; one of the things I like about the Zinio interface is that you can read the magazine in a standard layout that looks just like print or with one tap pull up the article's text in an easy-to-read layout that mimics the experience of the Kindle app or in iBooks. You can compare the magazine page above to the text view below. If you have trouble reading small print you can also increase the font size for an easier reading experience.

In addition to the portability and readability, magazines like VIV offer a media rich magazine experience that actually delivers on the iPad digital magazine demo we highlighted last month.

You do need an Internet connection to download the magazines, but once you have done so you can read them wherever you are. One small drawback to using the Zinio reader is that there is a slight lag when flipping pages. This is less noticeable when you download an issue completely but still there. We hope it goes away completely, but for now you'll just have to imagine you're turning the page of a printed magazine.

If you want to know what it's like to read a digital magazine you can read free samples of many publications in the free Zinio Reader for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch as well as with the software to install on a PC. In most cases you cannot switch your current paper subscription to a digital one, but it's possible this will become a standard option in the future as more readers look to digital magazines for their entertainment. Having read a few digital issues I know I will be looking at a digital subscription when my current subscriptions are up for renewal.
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