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Adobe not planning for the future? Unpossible

Shawn Blanc links to this article by David Sleight in which David talks about the logistical problems of publishing magazines suitable for the new iPad’s new Retina Display.

The gist is that Adobe’s magazine app publishing platform (as well as other’s) creates a magazine by wrapping up a big stack of PNG image files in a thin interactivity layer. On the new iPad, these images will be too small to be legible. I hinted at this problem when I reviewed Vanity Fair’s iPad edition. Today each “magazine” is an enormous file (200MB to 400MB) with text that can’t be enlarged, selected, copied, exported, or read aloud by accessibility software. In order for this publishing format to work on high resolution displays, the images will have to be much higher resolution – and therefore much larger in file size. Otherwise the text will be blurry and hard to read. If you increase the size of the images making up each page, you increase the overall file size of each magazine. These things are already too big to store. I never keep more than an issue or two on my iPad. And of course, download times will increase as well.

I already find these magazines hard to read. Even my 37 year old web nerd eyes find the text in these magazines (on the original iPad) to be too blurry. Compared to iBooks, the Kindle App, or just any old web page in Safari, they look terrible (at least for reading). I came to the same conclusion that David did; they should have been using web technologies all along.

Vanity Fair has a decent web site already and they obviously have a CMS supporting it. Why not create a tablet optimized version of the site with the same content as the magazine then make that site an add-on to an existing subscription or create a partial pay-wall? That web content could be wrapped in an app and cached for offline use. Most graphics (borders, boxes, shapes, etc) could be delivered as tiny SVGs, photos could be delivered as hi-res JPGs. The end result would be much smaller than what they deliver now, but far more readable. It’s possible that they might have to sacrifice some fine layout control…but the result would be reasonably future proof content.

Vanity Fair and Conde Naste have already produced and killed one version of a magazine app. The current one is about to be obsoleted, as is all the content they’ve already produced for it. Why keep hitching their wagon to Adobe’s lame last century mentality mule?