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How to get started with your Newsstand Magazine Application

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A lot of people have a dream of their ideal life. I’d suspect that living on a beautiful tropical island, with a great community, building a great business and surfing as much as possible would be fairly close to that goal. Nick Martin is making that dream happen. I met Nick a few months ago in Bali. He practically managed to save my sanity & a handful of apps with a strange Balinese voodoo concoction. If you’re interested in newsstand apps I’d suggest getting in touch with him.

Being a reader here on Chocolate Lab Apps I’m sure you’ve run into magazine style apps already. Perhaps you’ve wondered how these get setup or how you can get started with a magazine yourself? In this article I want to give you an overview of digital magazine apps and how you can get started publishing magazines yourself.

Why Are Magazine Apps Interesting?

I’m sure you already know that the Internet is going mobile and apps in general are super hot. Same goes for magazine apps! They are actually quite a few years behind regular apps and now 4 years after the first iPad came out, the market and potential for creating magazine apps is pretty damn huge. Latest numbers indicate that there are about 10.000 magazines published in the App Store and it is estimated that tablets will out sell PC’s by 2015*. The iPad sold 80 million units in its first two years. No other product in the history of the world has done that. Guess what the second most sold unit was? Yup the iPhone.

But I really don’t need to tell you all this – you already know the potential with apps.

So How Do I Get A Magazine App?

A magazine is just like any other regular app in the app store. Yes it’s an Xcode project that has been modified slightly in order to take advantage of magazine style features. Today you can actually create a standalone magazine app or a newsstand magazine app. I won’t get into the code of things in this article, but I would like to share a free resource with you. It’s called BakerFramework** and it is basically an open source magazine app. It’s a free Xcode project that gives you your magazine app.

So Far So Good How Do I Create My Issue Content?

There are several solutions out there on the Internet that help you get started with creating your content. Basically you can go for PDF or with HTML5 creation of content. While working with PDF is easy for people to get started I would recommend you go for the HTML5 option instead.

There is a longer debate going on about PDF Vs. HTML5 for digital magazines and there are pro’s and cons for each. I personally believe the format that offers the most interactivity options will win in the long run. Readers are looking for more then “just” a reading experience. They want to interact and be entertained with digital magazines. HTML5 offers the most when it comes to interactivity with readers. Think beyond just embedding audio and video (which is great in itself), as there are loads of possibilities with HTML5 and CSS3. Take a look at Twitter Bootstrap 3 for creating responsive content.

Can I Make Money With A Magazine App?

Now that you have your app sorted, there are a few ways you can monetize it. The most popular is offering a free app with IAP issues and subscriptions. You could also add any of the popular add SDK’s and serve ads to your subscribers, but I wouldn’t recommend this, as it could get slightly annoying for readers.

Free issues is also an option, especially if you see a potential for offering your current users or website visitors a free magazine to keep them coming back to your site. It’s also a great way to build a list of subscribers that you can follow up with later.

I would recommend going with subscriptions and single issue purchases. You would have to set this up in iTunes Connect as you would normally setup IAP and then offer them in your app. This does require that you have some sort of backend server that can communicate with apple to verify and release the IAP.

A Quick Recap of Digital Magazines

The market is there for offering digital magazines and the competition is extremely low still. You can get a free magazine app to get started with and creating your content is as easy as writing some very simple HTML5 webpages.

If you want to monetize your magazine with subscriptions and purchases then you will need a server to manage transactions and release products. You can find a guide at the Baker website if you’re a programmer and want to create your own, or chose a digital publishing provider online.

Should I Do It All Myself Or Use A Publishing Provider?

If you’re a coder you can definitely do it all yourself. Everything you need is out there on the Internet and mostly for free. It does however take a lot of time no matter what skill level you’re at, so be prepared for that.

If you are a content creator or not very tech savvy, then I would recommend going for a publishing provider. It will save you loads of time and you can get started working on your content right away. Just like creating games the most important part of this process is getting your magazine out there.


Nick Martin is a tech entrepreneur and experimentalist currently living on Bali working on various startups including Magloft which is an all in one magazine publishing platform. Magloft uses a customized version of the Baker app, cloud server for managing subscriptions and purchases and a visual drag and drop HTML5 editor for creating content. It’s an all in one inexpensive publishing solution.

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Elaine Heney is an online entrepreneur, triple #1 best selling author and international keynote speaker. Elaine is an Amazon FBA ecommerce advisor, investor, Hollywood movie producer, online business consultant and CEO of Chocolate Lab Cashflow. Elaine has also published over 300 mobile apps across Amazon, Apple & Google, and enjoyed over 20 million app downloads and over 50 #1 apps worldwide.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Pavel March 24, 2014, 4:58 pm

    Hi Elaine,

    This is not pertaining to this article, but I have a quick question:

    The Code Source that you sell most of the time has PlayHaven integrated in it. When I test my ads, I could never get PlayHaven to pay as well as Chartboost in any of my apps. Do you know a secret of how to use PlayHaven properly? Why do you prefer it to Chartboost or other services?


  • Elaine Heney March 24, 2014, 5:40 pm

    Hi Pavel, I have Cb & Ph and a few other ad networks in my games. I think it depends on the game & what advertisers are spending with each company. All yoo can do is try them all & then use the one that’s performing the best. And I suspect that’s likely to be different for each app portfolio. Test & execute.

  • avanceittrends April 25, 2014, 1:19 pm

    This is a great post regarding iphone development! Those who want to learn such will surely find these lessons informative and helpful.

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