How to Make Over a Magazine for the IPad: Popular Science

Three Early Adopters Take Us Through the Process of Turning a Print Product Digital

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NEW YORK ( -- There are a lot of uncertainties about magazines on the Apple iPad -- how great is the public demand for them, can publishers make money on them? But there's an equally important logistical question that has to be addressed before publishers can do anything else: How do you build it in the first place?

Three of the magazine world's early iPad adopters -- Time Inc.'s Time magazine, Men's Health from Rodale and Bonnier's Popular Science -- walked us through their processes.


1. Bonnier calls its platform for iPad editions Mag Plus. Popular Science art and editorial staff work with a dedicated Mag Plus production staff to transform each print edition into an iPad edition, the first step of which is moving each page of editorial content, which starts out formatted as an Adobe InDesign file, into a Mag Plus InDesign template.

2. Once the Mag Plus InDesign files are in the template, they are imported into an authoring tool -- essentially a program for viewing, editing and enhancing the content -- using a file format Bonnier calls MIB, for Mag Plus Issue Bundle. Designers put thought and work into designing beautiful layouts for the iPad format, adding extra photos or other elements as appropriate. Editorial screens in Popular Science Plus on the iPad include the same elements as the print pages they came from but are not laid out the same way.

"The thing I think is really unique about Mag Plus is that we really emphasize design," said Mike Haney, deputy director of R&D at Bonnier. "We think it's really important that the magazine be not just a replica of what's in print but be optimized for the screen size, the interaction, the architecture."

Bonnier's Mag Plus platform gives editors and readers two layers to play with: one for images and the other for text. In Popular Science Plus, for example, a semitransparent layer of text overlays images and photos. As readers scroll through the layer of text, the underlying image might change to reflect points in that text. Those kinds of transitions are added in the authoring tool.

3. Popular Science includes a few ads from the print edition, which are imported like edit pages and often tweaked slightly, plus unique Mag Plus edition ads that scroll or take advantage of the layered layout.

4. As each page is completed, a button in the authoring tool sends it to a reviewer app that Bonnier runs on its iPads to simulate the consumer experience. Digital producers make any tweaks in the authoring tool.

5. Once everyone is happy with an entire issue, the publish button sends it to Apple for approval and then the app store.

The process takes a couple days of a designer's time and a couple days of a digital producer's time, but Bonnier expects it to become more efficient over time as the design becomes more refined and staff become more familiar with the process.

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