GPO Paves Way to Online Magazine Store for Fed Agencies

Those close to me know I’m a magazine junkie. And now that I can store my titles neatly on my iPad mini, instead of strewn around the house, it’s easier to conceal the depth of my addiction.

My favorite online magazine store, Zinio, which has a worldwide reach and represents 90% of all popular magazines, includes well-known titles such as Vanity Fair, National Geographic, and Bloomberg Businessweek.

It’s widely accepted that use of platforms like Zinio will grow rapidly as tablet consumption is steadily on the rise.

According to Pew Research, as of May 2013, 34% of U.S. adults own a tablet. That’s almost a 100% increase from a year ago.

But it was news to me that GPO had forged a partnership with Zinio as the Fed’s preferred partner for publication distribution. “We’ve had this agreement in place for about a year now,” said Jeffrey Turner, Director of Sales and Marketing for GPO.

GPO invited Jason Desmarais, Stategic Marketing Manager at Zinio, to give a tour of its publishing distribution platform to Federal agencies and creative partners like OmniStudio at GPO’s headquarters in DC yesterday.

Zinio provides publishers with three levels of production customization. There’s the plain vanilla basic PDF, a layered PDF option augmented by XML, and their most complex media rich version which integrates with Adobe’s DPS system.

Desmarais said that only 5% of Zinio’s magazines choose the Adobe’s DPS option because of the cost associated with the DPS platform. Most publications fall in the middle tier.

“Zinio’s platform, unlike Apple’s,” Desmarais said, “has open data sharing, so publishers know how many people are reading their titles, and which articles are most popular.” Zinio’s publications can be read on any platform, including Kindle and Windows. In addition, Zinio’s platform can accommodate email lists to push notifications to individuals, and a portal to Zinio’s store can be set up directly on an agency’s website. Zinio is also working on HTML5 integration so that the web viewing experience is on par with the tablet.

The magazine platform itself is very user friendly. If you open your magazine on your iPad on the way to work, and your iPhone on the way home, Zinio remembers which page you’re on.

Acting as a bridge between agencies and Zinio, GPO says that its consultation service makes it easy for agencies to appear on Zinio’s store within 5-10 days, depending on the level of customization required. One of the first Federal government publications to appear on Zinio is the Department of Veteran Affairs’ Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development (JRRD).

Questions from the audience about pricing, 508 compliance, and how creative partners factor into the equation were not answered completely by Desmarais. I am also wondering why GPO chose Zinio over other platforms like Texterity and Mag+. We’re in the early stages of this type of distribution for non-commercial publications, so there was an air of uncertainty expressed by agencies about diving into this model without careful research.

Stand by for more information about this new avenue for government publishers. I’ll be asking Zinio and GPO more questions and our designers will be testing out the platform soon. In the meantime, I will be making more room on my iPad’s magazine shelf for free, Federal publications.

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