This One's for the Ladies: Glamour App Hits the iPad

Glamour Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive at the Women of the Year awards
Glamour Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive at the Women of the Year awards

Full-on tech geekery tends to be a male thing, but while women may not flock to the Apple (AAPL) store in droves at 5 a.m. to be be first to buy the latest iPhone, there's no doubt they like their sleek gadgets, too. So while the first wave of magazines to become available on the iPad consisted largely of male-oriented titles like Wired, Popular Mechanics and Sports Illustrated, women's publications are surely soon to follow -- led by Glamour, whose Apple app goes live today.

That makes Glamour the first major women's title to offer a version of itself for the iPad, as editor-in-chief Cindi Leive (pictured) well knows. "If you're browsing around the app store, there just isn't much there for women," she says. (A much smaller fashion-and-entertainment magazine, Interview, has been on sale there since April.)

Browse for Free, Buy for $3.99

The Glamour app allows users to read articles from for free and buy magazine issues for $3.99, the same price as a print issue. The September issue, the only one available at the moment, goes on sale at newsstands in New York and Los Angeles today, but won't roll out in much of the country for another week -- meaning most readers can see it only by buying the app.

Will they? Who knows? Answering questions like that is part of the reason Leive wanted Glamour to be an early adopter of the tablet medium despite the steep learning curve it will surely have to climb. "We know everything there is to know about how our reader behaves in print," she says. "We don't know that here. It gives us what we think is a really good opportunity for R&D."

The app contains all the content from the September issue along with various bonus goodies. They range from an instructional video showing how to put on false eyelashes, to videos starring Katie Couric and Justin Bieber, to a shopping gallery that allows readers to purchase items from the magazine via an in-app browser.

Glamour magazine on the iPad
Glamour magazine on the iPad

Two Views, No Subscriptions

The magazine content itself is rendered two ways: In landscape format, it appears exactly as it does in print, one two-page spread at a time. Tilt your tablet 90 degrees, however, and you get a different version edited specifically for the iPad, with larger photos, more slide shows and even different organization of sections. (The masthead and letters page have been shifted to the back of the issue.)

Ad positions in the portrait-view version were sold at premium rates, and the ads all include rich-media components.

While every subsequent issue of Glamour will be available through the app, you can't buy a subscription, because Apple, which wants to control relationships with its customers, won't let publishers sell them -- as Sports Illustrated publisher Time Inc. (TWX) recently discovered to its frustration.

"If you ask anybody in the magazine industry, of course we want to be able to do it," Leive says of selling subscriptions. "How far off it is or isn't -- that's a complicated question involving many parties."

Will Apple Censor Glamour?

Another frustration for some publishers has been Apple's insistence that anything sold through the app store not contain nudity or any other form of "objectionable" content -- objectionable as defined, though seldom explained, by Apple. The British magazine Dazed & Confused got around this prudery by submitting a cleaned-up version of its print product to Apple, which its editors refer to as the "Iran edition." In contrast, David Remnick, editor-in-chief of The New Yorker -- which, like Glamour, is owned by Conde Nast -- has vowed he won't change anything in his magazine to suit Apple.

While Glamour regularly publishes provocative photography and articles about sex -- the sort of racy-but-not-pornographic content that has gotten other developers dinged by Apple's censors -- Leive stopped short of echoing Remnick, saying she believes she doesn't have to worry about it.

"I don't think we're going to hear anything from Apple that's going to be a surprise to me," she says. "We talk to our readers in the way we find most successful. I don't see diverging from that down the road."

Disclosure: I wrote a freelance article for Glamour in 2006, and worked for its parent company, Conde Nast Publications, for several years at other publications.