A few years back, Apple introduced something called Newsstand. The idea behind Newsstand was to create a single location where publishers could send digital issues of a magazine for people to read on their iPhone or iPad. The problem with Newsstand is that it basically duplicated printed magazines in digital form. By burying so many digital magazines within the Newsstand app, it was easy for people to completely ignore Newsstand.
To read a digital magazine, people had to go through three steps. First they had to find the Newsstand app. Second, they had to find the digital magazine they wanted to read. Third, they had to open that particular digital magazine. Many publishers simply created their own apps to give users one-click access to their content and ignored Newsstand altogether.
That’s why Apple recently dumped Newsstand and created a different app called News. If you watch Apple’s WWDC keynote at the 51:30 minute mark, you can see a brief six minute demo of how this News app works. Basically the News app collects content from multiple sources and displays them within a single app. Now you get one-click access to just the content you want to read on a regular basis.
For self-published authors who want to publish their own books, think of creating your own channel of content to publish information about your latest books. If you write fiction, release a novel in chapters like magazines used to do in the old days. Charles Dickens wrote many of his novels as serialized magazine issues. That kept people buying the magazine so they could find out how a particular story ended.
If you write non-fiction, simply write related content about your book topic, or just serialize the entire book as a series of chapters as well. With digital magazines available, there’s no reason to let just the big publishers target audiences. You can carve out your own niche in the new world of digital magazine publishing available through Apple’s News app, coming this fall. If you put ads in your content, you’ll even get to keep 100% of the profits. If you let Apple insert ads into your content, you’ll get 70% of the profits.
Look beyond e-books and start investigating digital magazine publishing. A digital magazine won’t look like a print magazine converted into digital form (as Apple’s Newsstand app’s failure shows), but will look like something dynamic that lets people selectively choose what they want to read mixed in with their other content. Digital publishing in books is already popular and digital magazines are next. Don’t overlook this new opportunity.