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Repurposing Magazines for Tablet Devices

By Margaret VanEchaute

When it comes to digital magazines, there’s one question that everyone seems to be asking: Is the iPad just a fun toy, or is it a serious tool that people will actually use to read magazines?

According to Keith Gilbert, an Adobe-certified instructor based in St. Paul, Minnesota, it’s absolutely clear that the iPad is here to stay—and with iPads widely leading the market in worldwide tablet sales, designing for this device is the only way to go if you want to create an app for your magazine.

From a designer’s perspective, most of the work involved in creating a digital app still lies in the physical layout of the pages, created in InDesign or Quark. But Gilbert explains that how you choose to add interactivity and export your app is still an area where there are no definitive standards. From the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to apps created with low-cost online templates, many options exist for turning pages into interactive magazines—though some are more complicated or costly than others.

Someday, Gilbert believes, exporting an app will be as simple as exporting a PDF. But until then, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons of each option. How much interactivity is needed? Will the app be online-hosted or accessible offline? Is the pinch and zoom capability important? How is your content going to be distributed? All of these answers affect which exporting solution is best for you.

While programs like the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite are still being targeted at large companies with big budgets, Gilbert is confident that the ability for everyone to create user-friendly and cost-effective apps is not far away. It’s only a matter of time.