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There is a lot of talk around tablets, but we are still in the infancy of this new computer format, and most people still haven’t tried a tablet for themselves. Yes, many users intuitively have a good instinct about what tablets can do when it comes to consuming content. There’s something familiar, yet exciting about it. Why? Because the content that users can consume on tablets is familiar: everybody can relate with books and magazines. Yet, this new content is exciting because it is “better” in many ways: it doesn’t take space and does not weigh anything, it’s cheaper than paper content. But more importantly, the next-generation content is more context-aware, and more interactive. Let’s take a look at what that looks like.
Mobile devices have been able to display simple text since the very beginning, but the arrival of modern tablets with beautiful high-resolution displays will bring fundamental changes to the media industry, insiders say. Not only tablet computers let users replicate a familiar reading experience, but they also add obvious perks: users can now own a lot of magazines without the bulk, weigh and overall mess associated with paper media.
On Android, Zinio is the best place to look for magazines that many of us are familiar with. There is an ample choice of publications on a variety of topics, including some in foreign languages.
The user experience is also more interactive than a paper magazine. It’s possible to see pages as thumbnails and quickly jump to another section. Readers can also zoom in if they want to take a closer look at a photo, or if their sight isn’t as good as it used to be. Some magazines also come as stand-alone applications, and they might even contain short videos or interactive graphics that further illustrate the articles.
I used to be a huge fan of super-hero comics, and it was with great pleasure that I dived back into it. Thanks to modern display technology, I think that Comics take a new dimension because the colors and overall image quality look so much better.
Just like other digital publications, it is easy to browse pages. The other benefit of a digital version is that individual issues, are fairly cheap as well: most cost $0.99 and you can even find some that are free. Most content is even less expensive if you the yearly subscription. At that point, the paper equivalent has a hard-time to compete.
At the moment, Comics is the best apps to get that type of content from established brands (on Android devices), but Daily Comix could be a good source for alternative content. Although a lot of apps have been originally built for smartphones, the user experience usually translates well to the tablet format.
The store sections could be vastly improved, but with the search function, most users should be able to find something of interest.
As advanced as magazines and comics are getting, they are still “just” an improved version of their paper equivalent, and some would still argue that the paper “feels” better, which I personally disagree with, except if I’m in direct sunlight. Interactive books bring things on the table that paper just can’t, like animated sequences, mini-games or even self-reading.
Right now, such content is mostly designed for kids because their visual learning ability is far greater than their reading abilities (which is sometime nil, hence the self-reading feature). Titles like Timor the Alligator or Food Fight are good examples of what the first generation of Interactive books can do.
Future books will undoubtedly be more complex, and in the near future, interactive books about history should contain much more media. or be linked to online media.
The modern computing capabilities of tablets, associated with their unique ergonomics explain why they are very attractive devices to consume content on. But what’s great about electronic content is that it is often cheaper than paper content. For once, and it’s rare, the benefits of technology don’t come at a greater cost (well, you still need the tablet). The benefits in term of occupied volume can also be non-negligible, if you are a voracious reader.
But this is only the beginning. The media industry has just started to accept the fact the future is digital, and more companies are poised to build products for this market. Also, packing too much content could affect the download time and storage space, so content producers need to strike a balance when it comes to magazine size (in MB).
But it is certain that tablets and mobile devices, not traditional computers, will push magazines and books to the next level.
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