Zinio Newsstand delivers full issues to your iPad

Spoiler alert! If you love your magazines but hate to throw old issues away, you might try Zinio Newsstand and Magazine Reader. The reader is free, but the subscriptions aren’t. Still, they eliminate lots of paper and allow you to live under the illusion that you’re really reducing your carbon footprint. You will certainly have more room on your coffee table.

Anyone with more than one cat, or with a dog and a cat, knows better than to keep old magazines lying around on the coffee table. The exception would be geriatric cats who no longer have the energy to chase each other around the house.

Younger cats love to play, and sometimes they play at high speed. When they play at high speed they discover how much fun it is to leap on the coffee table and slide across the surface on a magazine. It’s like the cat version of a super slide.

When they slide, of course, they take all the other magazines (and any other trinkets that might have been left on the surface) with them. They take them with them several feet past the edge of the coffee table and across the floor. Carol and I call it zine surfing.

Not all cats surf on magazines. One in five simply chew the magazines along the page edge so that you feel as though you’re reading in braille every time you turn the page.

Sooner or later you realize that the only thing you can do with a new magazine is to read it immediately and dispose of it. You might think you can shelve them, but one in six cats is genetically predisposed to climb the spines of magazines to get to the top of bookshelves where they can knock down any trinkets you’re foolish enough to think they can’t reach. It doesn’t take too long before the magazines on your bookshelves look like shredded paper.1

If you don’t have cats, you may also suffer from dust collecting journal syndrome (DCJS). Readers who suffer from DCJS can’t discard their magazines and so leave them to pile higher and higher on their coffee tables. Not only do they collect dust, they collect coffee and cola stains, loose kernels of popcorn and snack crumbs. DCJS sufferers soon discover they can’t prop their feet on their coffee tables without resorting to advanced Yoga, nor can they see their televisions over their stacks.

Should they finally decide to clear off their coffee tables, they suffer a prolonged period of whimsy and depression only to fall into the downward spiral of building their magazine stacks yet again.

It shouldn’t surprise readers that there’s an app for that: Zinio Newsstand and Magazine Reader. Zinio Newsstand allows readers to download their favorite magazines to their iPads and archive them to their computers using iTunes.

Tuesday I reviewed The Daily, a magazine created specifically for the iPad, and concluded the app did a superior job delivering readable content. Zinio Newsstand does the reverse. The delivery is adequate but the content is far more diverse and generally higher quality. I say this only because Zinio offers subscriptions to dozens of magazines directed to many more reading tastes.

The iPad version of the high school kid at your door

You may never have opened the door to be confronted with a cute girl or a dorky band member hawking magazine subscriptions to raise money for their organization, but I was that kid. Not the cute girl, but the dorky band member.

And I hated selling subscriptions almost as much as I hated answering my door as an adult and seeing that dorky kid standing in front of me. I hated selling subscriptions so much I ran away to join the debate time where we were too busy researching and traveling to sell subscriptions. But that’s another story.

Now when that dorky kid shows up at your door, you only need to say, “Sorry, kid, I have all the subscriptions I need with Zinio Newsstand on my iPad.” Don’t feel guilty. Adults shouldn’t be sending kids door to door to encounter perverts and liberals who could turn them into Democrats or encourage them to get pregnant and have abortions. They should raise their own damn money.

Zinio offers magazines as diverse as the Economist and Harvard Business Review, Mother Jones and Utne Reader (the NPR of the newsstand), glossy art journals, car mags, fashion zines and even current science and news. You won’t find as many titles as you might at a large Barnes & Noble, but pretty close.

Zinio Newsstand routinely offers select feature articles that represent the best articles released during the current month. At the time of this writing, Zinio Newsstand featured articles on the marginally criminal activities of Dicky Eglund (the main character in the movie The Fighter), quantum loopholes, the impact of the African economy on geopolitics and Justin Bieber.

In time they may even offer Tiger Blood Weekly, chronicling the exploits of Charlie Sheen, the goddesses and their new allies Lindsay, Sean and Mel Gibson.

You can buy subscriptions and individual issues, including back issues for some titles. Subscription prices seem reasonable; some run for less than twenty dollars annually.

The in-app store allows you to buy individual issues or subscriptions with your credit card or Pay Pal.

You can start your library with sample issues of MacWorld, Web MD and National Geographic.

Pretty good delivery

Pretty good is good enough for Minnesotans and Prairie Home Companion fans. Zinio Newsstand doesn’t have the slick features of The Daily or some of the other single source readers. But it’s still pretty darn good.

Each issue is a holographic reproduction of the physical journal. You can zoom in and the text will be crisp and legible. Unfortunately, the text is usually too small to read in full page mode, so readers have to read in zoom and pan mode, which makes reading a little more awkward. Dedicated iPad readers generally design the page for the iPad screen.

The hiding menu bar at the top of the screen allows you to jump to a table of contents or page thumbnails

You can read each issue cover to cover, but you can also jump to specific pages by navigating to stories from the contents page, or by scrolling through page thumbnails. You can also delete purchased issues from your device and redownload them in the future or you can back them up to your hard drive when you synch to iTunes (although this will significantly increase synching time).

You can jump to page thumbnails to browse to specific pages, should you wish to.

Click image to see full size

In short, the interface isn’t elegant but it’s functional. What you want to find are enhanced interactive features such as video and music.

A few requests

I doubt many readers will spend too much time with Zinio Newsstand before discovering they have a wish list. It took me all of thirty minutes. My biggest peeve is the that readers can’t purchase and download individual articles. I would much rather pay a dollar or two to keep the one article I really need than $6 for an entire issue that only has one useful article.

This may not be possible with every magazine, but Zinio clearly has the ability to deliver single featured articles. It would be well worth it to me to pay to download at least a featured article that really looks good so I can read it in more detail later.

It would also be helpful if they could speed up the resolution process when zooming in on the page. Comic readers have the ability to zoom and resolve fairly quickly.

The option to move issues offline to iDisk, or Dropbox would also be nice. Synching to iTunes requires removing issues that you don’t want archived or twiddling thumbs while waiting for a synch to finish. I would rather have the option to store specific issues offline.

I also found it slightly irritating that I couldn’t change my Apple ID email to subscribe through Pay Pal (we use Carol’s email). I find it even more irritating because the store doesn’t even use the App Store; you actually make purchases online.

Still, this is a great start. Hopefully Zinio Newsstand won’t be an app that leaves the shell alone and updates only the content available. If they keep working, Zinio Newsstand could become as essential as iBooks or Kindle.

Jenny Manytoes rates Zinio Newsstand and Magazine Reader

Jenny Manytoes would purr next to Zinio Newsstand. It isn’t quite as well developed as the best ereaders yet, but it’s pretty close. It beats lugging three or four periodicals around in your backpack and it sure beats picking up all your magazines after an afternoon of kitty zine surfing.

I pray they never learn to surf with an iPad because those slightly rounded backs are great for building up surface speed.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

1This is also true of LPs and old Laser Discs, but few people actually have those relics lying around anymore.back

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 4 Stars - Purr, News, Reading and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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