Flipboard and Glossi Redefine the Digital Magazine

The digital magazine is being reworked in ways that should open it up to the masses, just as WordPress did with blogging.

Publishing a digital magazine for tablet users is becoming a possibilty for aspiring editors without experience. Credit: ebayink via Compfight cc

Forerunners in this area — including Flipboard, OpenZine and more recently, Glossi — provide content creators of all stripes with an entry point into an area that’s mostly been limited to pros with expensive software.

This trend toward do-it-yourself magazine editing seems bolstered by the proliferation of tablets — where these kinds of publications look best — and an appetite among regular web users to produce and share content.

It’s the same strain of democratization that is upending app publishing.

Glossi is a two-month-old platform that provides an outlet for content like so many others. But the service distinguishes itself by allowing users to control how the material appears.

It most prominently provides an escape from the confines of vertical scrolling by allowing publishers to assemble text and images on pages that can be navigated by swipes on tablets and e-readers. There’s also an option to add GIFs, those brief, low-def videos that are seeing a resurgence.

Partners include DKNY and Lucky Magazine, suggesting a new means for popular brands to spread their influence.

Content aggregator Flipboard is the other big player in this space. Flipboard began as an app that only aggregated feeds from news sources and social media and presented the content in an image-driven layout tailored for tablets and smartphones.

But Flipboard 2.0 has the added functionality of allowing users to create custom magazines using all that by streaming content. The company suggests creating magazines to make collections and save good ideas in the same vein as Pinterest. Magazines can be made public or private.

Another option is OpenZine, which was founded way back in 2008. The free service has a dedicated following, but lacks some of the visual pizazz possessed by the other services in this category.

Jilster, based in the Netherlands, is a paid service that lets users create digital and print magazines, whether alone or in collaboration with others in an “online newsroom.”

The magazine can be shared on social media or through more traditional means — ordering physical copies and handing them out.

Adam Popescu has covered social media, green business and other topics for a variety of news outlets, including Marketplace and LA Weekly.

Adam Popescu
Adam Popescu
Adam Popescu has covered social media, green business and eco-travel for a variety of news outlets, including Marketplace, LA Weekly and Los Angeles Times Community Newspapers.
Tags: Downtime,Mobile Apps,Tech Culture