When I walk into my local book stores I sometimes cringe when I see the number of magazines on shelves—un-read and un-purchased, but yet so well designed and full of great information. I’ve asked store clerks more than a few times what happens to the magazines that they don’t sell. Each has said the same thing: they’re boxed back up and shipped off for recycling.
It’s great that so much expensive paper is recycled, but in the age of the iPad I long to see a lot less paper magazines on magazine stands and a lot more available to subscribers using the iPad and other forthcoming tablet devices.
As it stands now, Zinio Magazine & Reader (iTunes Store link) app is the most useful digital magazine publication app for the iPad. Zinio has been around for a while as a computer magazine reader. It distributes thousands of full-color magazines, from RollingStone, Car and Driver, to Time Magazine. Many of the most popular magazines that you see on newsstands can be downloaded from Zinio. Most of the publications are not free, but the Zinio apps, both the mobile and desktop versions are very much free.
In my experience as a Zinio user, its iPad app has opened a new experience for magazine subscriptions and reading. As I have said many times, the iPad lends itself to great reading experience of nearly all publication formats, e.g. PDFs, e-books, magazines, and web pages.
With the Zinio magazine reader on my iPad, I’m starting to reduce the amount of paper magazines on my book shelves and in my office closet. I look forward to reading all my magazines using apps like Zinio. When you subscribe to a magazine you don’t have to wait several months for subscription to begin, and when new issues are released they are available to your Zinio account much sooner than the paper versions in the mail.
Zinio for the iPad is pretty straight forward application that downloads your magazine subscriptions to your device. Similar to e-readers like iBooks and Amazon Kindle for the iPad, it has the familiar vertical turning pages feature, a quick linear and thumbnail access to the table of contents of selected publications, and—for us readers with poor eyesight—a very useful zoom feature for enlarging pages.
While the “page turning” in the app is smooth, it takes a second or two for the pages to fully load. Other than that, however, the resolution quality of the digital pages is very good for both words and images. There’s also a Text-only features for magazine articles.
Some magazines come with interactive extras, e.g. audio and video. With your Zinio account, you can also sync subscriptions between your mobile devices and your computer—Mac, Linux or PC.
Zinio has just released an updated Adobe Air version of its computer reader, Zinio Reader 4. The experience of reading magazines on your computer, or even the iPhone, is not, in my view, as friendly as reading on the iPad. However, the desktop reader has many more features than the iPad version.
With Zinio Reader you can share via email and other social networking sites links to selected pages of your subscribed magazines, as well as bookmark pages and clip content with comments. This very useful tool that is completely missing for some reason from the iPad app. Also missing from the mobile version is the ability to search keywords in publications.
Missing annotation features from the iPad version are big impediment to this app; I look forward to these features in forthcoming updates.
These shortcomings, however, don’t prevent this e-reader magazine reader from being a very useful application for the iPad. Perhaps Apple will eventually include magazine and newspapers as part of its iBooks download, but until then Zinio is the best solution.