Friday, April 27, 2012

Journey to Digital

About 3 years ago my husband showed me an amazing online fishing magazine full of stunning photography and interactive ads. It was a life-changing moment as I realized this is where it was all going.  With the advent of social media, print ads were becoming increasingly passe and hard to sell. The digital magazine ads, seemed to be just coming into their own and used social media to their benefit.  They had embedded links to relavent videos. These might take you on a tour of the lodge/resort or on a boat down the river on an actual fishing trip.  Links could be included as well to things like the booking site or perhaps an e-tail store.  The ads were a cutting edge, interactive experience available to a global audience.  I was impressed.  A digital magazine also takes no physical space to store which is perfect for those living in today's smaller condos, is cheaper to produce, easy to travel with and is right in line with the Eco Movement.


Because this area is so new, researching it was a complicated and frustrating experience. Creating a digital flip magazine to be viewed online was easy.  The challenge was to produce one that could be sold as a digital download.  I tried to look at programs available to purchase and all had limitations, were pretty expensive and you had to buy separate versions for PC and MAC.  iPad owned the market., but to get into the Apple store you had to have a development permit. Zinio was the go-to site for downloads, but you had to pay them to create the digital magazine and give them a percentage of sales to be in their store.  They would install all the hyperlinks, but it was an extra charge to create the iPad version.  The cost was prohibitive for me and the reviews I read by web techies was they were not keeping up with new developments.


I tried talking with printing programs at universities to see if I could get an intern to no avail.  The academic world had not kept up with technology and didn't yet teach this new and exciting area of publishing.  I purchased InDesign.  There were problems moving the PDF files in as those with a white border didn't place right and had to be realigned.  I could create the flip book, but couldn't figure out how to do the 3-D shading of the pages at the centre "fold" line or install a zoom feature.  Classes were available, but this program was more focused on creating the graphics with the flip publication a unnecessarily complicated sideline.  I had put over a year and a half into research at this point - talking with programmers and graphic designers and working with trial version from several companies - and was very frustrated.  Then early this year it all finally came together.

I lucked onto on program that was around $300 for a single license - FlipBook Creator Professional (additional charge to purchase a backup CD) - that said it did an online version plus a downloadable PC and MAC version.  Working with the trial version, I was shocked at how easy it was to operate.  It offered .html, .zip, exe for PC and .app for MAC.  The price was right and it was unbelievably easy to use so I decided to purchase the program. There is no help menu, so learning how to change and adjust details has proved to be a trial and error experience, but slowly I have figured out how to adjust the colour of the desktop as well as add and remove features.  I still haven't gotten to inserting hyper links, using the html version to post to an online website and more, but I will get it all done.  Hopefully in the future this company will add a help menu.

2 days ago I stumbled across a surprise.  After creating digital versions of all 4 print collectibles in PC and MAC version, I noticed the line on the convert window that said it made downloads for iPad, iPhone and Android.  Wow!  Back to the website and yes, it does do that. How did I not notice this feature before?  I have created the first set of these files now but as I don't have a iPad or iPhone, I am still not quite sure how to use them - my challenge for the next week.  The one note here is that without a developer's license you still cannot sell this at the Apple store, but there are other options.

So after several years of frustration trying to figure out how to accomplish this journey in a price range I could afford, the future caught up to me.  Hopefully a future blog will cover distribution options.  Only time will tell.

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