Your digital magazine has arrived!

Zinio Reader

MEDIA | You can’t take them with you to the bathroom, but they arrive before they hit the newsstands. Ahmad Humeid reads on

Many magazine readers in Jordan will tell you that this ‘hobby’ of theirs can be an expensive and frustrating one. This thought takes me back to the late 80’s, when my friend and I used to walk down from our school in Jabal Al Hussein to the downtown headquarters of ‘Wakalet Al Tawzee’ (The Jordan Distribution Agency), located in an old building right at the street leading up to First Circle. Such a walk was usually preceded by a phone call to the old, dignified gentleman who used to sit at the counter facing the glossy objects of our desire.

“Uncle, did this month’s Sinclair User and Crash arrive?” my friend used to ask the man over the phone, inquiring about our favourite magazines. A “No” would have been the disappointment of the day. A ‘yes’, on the other hand, would have us rushing downtown to get our hands on the stuff (hopefully with a tape on the cover, containing the latest computer games).

The magazines were, and still are, so expensive, that my friend and I used to share the cost of one issue and each of us got to keep half of the issues at the end of the year.

Now, what would the old man say if he new that today, on the 21st of July 2004, I am sitting in my kitchen enjoying the AUGUST (!) issue of one of my favourite magazines, Business 2.0, although no bookstore in Amman carries it. And what would he think if I told him that this issue cost me less than one US Dollar?

No, I am not reading the magazine on the web! What I have is the full magazine, complete with its ads and even the annoying subscription card that drop out when you flip though the issue! What more is that I am reading this magazine BEFORE it hits US newsstands.

What I am reading is Business 2.0’s digital edition, to which I subscribed last week on a really cool service called Zinio (www.zinio.com ).

Zinio, it turns out, is the market leader in the new world of digital magazine delivery. I found the Zinio Reader, which is the magazine flipping software developed by the company, preinstalled on my new Mac. The reader came with a free sample of Macworld. A few clicks and I was hooked. I immediately proceeded to Zinio’s site and, using my credit card, I subscribed to one magazine and downloaded a bunch of free samples of magazines like Popular Science, Architectural Record and Step Inside Design. Zinio’s ‘digital newsstand’ also includes popular titles such as Business Week and US News and World Report.

Once you subscribe, the Zinio software allows you to conveniently download your magazines onto your computer. A magazine’s file size is anywhere between 10 and 30 MB, taking between 4 and 15 minutes to download on an ADSL connection. The Reader then allows you to literally flip the pages of your magazine. A page-turning animation gives the experience a realistic feel. Being digital, these magazines are fully searchable and all hyperlinks mentioned in the text are active. A magazine’s contents page is actually clickable, taking you directly to the story you want. A digital marker pen and stick-it notes are available for you to annotate the pages. The Zinio Reader was designed by the industrial design company IDEO and has already won awards for its versatility. Their aim: bring together the best of the paper and digital worlds.

Now, that’s no easy task. Paper magazines are an extremely versatile medium. I mean who would want to take his PC into the bathtub to read an article while soaking in a bubble bath?! And don’t you just love the way you can leave magazines lying all over the office or home for the occasional read? Zinio allows you to share your purchased magazine with a few friends (a clever marketing ploy) and also allows you to print out the pages. Still this is no match for the paper version.

I also noticed that to be able to read the body text of articles on the Zinio Reader, one has to zoom in. Even the high-resolution screens of today’s PC’s are no match for the clarity and crispness of printing ink on paper. Another disappointment was the quality of photos once you zoom in, especially in magazines like Architectural Record. This is due to the high compression used for the images to keep the overall size of the magazine down.

Yet with all their shortcomings, digital magazines are a great invention, especially for us poor souls in Jordan who have to dish out lots of JDs for a decent foreign magazine, while having to choose from a limited selection, dictated by a market that has always found a place for Guns and Ammo but still has no place for a magazine like Wired.

Zinio’s selection is also quite limited, but is getting better. Other companies in the digital magazine/newspaper market are competing (like Texterity, qMags and Newsstand.com), which hopefully will drive more publishers towards creating digital editions.

A goodbye to paper it’s not. But a delightful alternative it surely is.


7 Responses to “Your digital magazine has arrived!”

  1. Chantel Says:

    is a trial version of this availible

  2. John Wiredland Says:

    Hi,

    Your report stated that the digital magazine can be shared amongst friends.

    Please enlighten.

  3. Bryan Says:

    I like the idea of digital magazines, but Zinio stinks. There service is terrible. You have to be online to read your magazine, and if something goes wrong, good luck trying to get support. If you don’t believe me, just type “zinio reader sucks” in your favorite search engine and read on…...

  4. James Says:

    I like Zinio.
    Free zinio magazines: http://asiaing.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=8&Itemid=71

  5. Bad Taste Says:

    Zinio is the WORST product EVER. Just reformat your system, change emails, or GET SUPPORT!

    Try it. I dare you!

  6. Anthony Cooper Says:

    I’ve enjoyed Zinio for the last several years. But recently I’ve been unable to open any of my new magazines and I can’t get any assistance from Zinio. They are not answering their phones and emails go unanswered. I’m absolutely fed up with their non customer service.

  7. Doris Green Says:

    We have recently decided to go with Qmags after an exhaustive search. There are a lot of so called companies providing so called Digital Editions out there but after much research and conversations we have found that Qmag /Qiosk provides a “serious” and credible solution for our Digital Initiative.

    We looked beyond the hype and found that Qmags was the best provider and the best value in a recently crowded field that Qmags was an early leader in.

    We are saving money (and) making money by expanding our rate base at a fraction of the cost of print. In a time of decreasing ad rates we can offer our advertisers lower ad rates and then increase the number of advertising pages for almost zero dollars compared to print.

    Qmags’ circulation experts are helping us navigate these uncharted waters. It’s a win-win.

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