Thursday, April 14, 2011

iPad magazines need a mix of content

The nearly-always-reliable David Hepworth has come up with an interesting thought about reading journalism on the iPad, and that thought is: keep it simple.

On the one hand, we have new ventures like The Atavist presenting long form stories in innovative ways and on the other we have the need for what Hepworth, referring to a very plain story from The Economist's iPad edition, calls

"Self-contained, looks long enough to read in kettle-boiling time ..."
This immediately reminded me of one of the findings in Joke Hermes's study of the way readers actually use magazines, Reading Women's Magazines. A key point was that they were "easy to put down" -- that is, if a more urgent task came along, the magazine could be abandoned without worrying about finding one's place again or losing a line of deep thought.

As far as iPad content is concerned, it won't be EITHER one OR the other, of course. Print magazines run short kettle-boiling pieces mixed with longer sit-down and concentrate reads and there's no reason why that principle should change.

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