Tablets the ideal platform for magazine design: Gael Towey
Admitting the company doesn’t really have a firm business plan for it yet, chief creative and editorial director Gael Towey of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia says the company’s iPad edition of the flagship magazine is still essential for growth.
“You have to invest in the future if you want to be in the future,” Towey told a large audience at the How Design Conference in Chicago this past weekend.
Towey said the creative possibilities with the iPad edition—built with Adobe’s new Digital Publishing System—are a perfect fit for a magazine like Martha Stewart Living. With how-to slide shows, videos, and before-and-after photos, readers “barely have to read the recipe” for food stories.
Stories are planned for both print and tablet editions from the very first stages. Video for the iPad edition is shot during photo shoots for the print edition, for example. With Martha Stewart herself already a TV presence, Towey said they try to make videos “more intimate” for the tablet edition.
While the print design and editorial team also works on the tablet version, the company did hire four more staffers to facilitate iPad production: an art director, videographer, production person and editor. The print edition closes first to accommodate what she later referred to as “the incredibly expensive and time-consuming process of printing on paper.”
Towey said the “change is huge” for editors and writers in particular. With interactive magazine articles, not only are they writing and editing stories, they are writing the video script and often doing voice-overs for short video documentaries.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is also investing in stand-alone apps developed with Callaway Digital Arts, sold on the Apple App Store, focusing on single topics such as making cookies and smoothies. Towey said development costs are expensive, but they amortize costs by using the same app engine across different titles. And, of course, being Martha Stewart Living, the apps are “also very, very beautiful.”
(Earlier in her presentation, speaking about Martha Stewart’s line of 280 paint colours, Towey remarked, “We believe you don’t need every colour in the universe. You just need the beautiful colours.”)
In response to a question from the audience, Towey said she loves her iPad and hopes that in five years, many of the magazine’s 2.2 million readers will convert to tablets. She noted, however, that “advertisers are far behind in advertising on digital magazines.”