A Wee App-etizer

appEvery week or so, I get a handful of questions along these lines: “Why don’t you have a mobile app for the magazine?”

My answer has long been along this line: “Well, we have a digital subscription available and we offer single issues in PDF format. And, well, I don’t know how to make an app (though I’d like to learn).”

Soon – very soon – my answer will change to: “But we do!”

I’ve spent much of today checking and double-checking our sample issue, making sure the “how-to” language makes sense, and writing the words that will appear in the App store – and let me just say that it’s difficult to elegantly encapsulate Popular Woodworking Magazine in 255 or fewer characters.

While I doubt we’ll have the November issue in the App Store concurrent with the print and digital subscriptions being mailed (because that happens next week), it shouldn’t be much of a wait.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

18 thoughts on “A Wee App-etizer

  1. Shawn Nichols

    Wow. I’m surprised by all the negative comments.

    I was one of those handful of users asking for the app. I for one LOVE the app available from Fine Woodworking and I’m looking forward to seeing what PopWood has in store with their version. I can see why people love the PDF but the app is more geared toward the way I read online content.

    Please sign me up as a beta tester if you need one.

    -Shawn

  2. R.Hoppe

    PDFs are always best! I own my pdfs of Popular Woodworking. Any ebooks or magazines purchased from Amazon or Apple are on indefinite loan. At any time it’s possible for them to erase all your books and mags from your e-device.

  3. Rick_G

    I like the PDF version because I can store it on my computer and transfer it to my Android when I want it in the shop or just to read in comfort. I’m with “cagenuts” on this though there are a lot more of us out here than cr@pple owners. There is another wood working mag. out there that only supplied their tablet version for the ipad and I will be dropping my online membership when it expires as they don’t even supply a PDF version.

  4. terrymck

    I like the magazine in pdf format. There are many pdf readers and I use PerfectReader on the iPad. The pdf is searchable and the format is the same as the printed magazine. Will the pdf format stay?

    I’ve not been impressed with other magazines (not necessarily wood working mags) who have chosen to go down the app route.

    Terry McKnight

  5. wb8nbs

    So what will a “Mobile App” do over what the PDF can do? I recently bought a Nook HD+ (9″, cheap) and find reading on it nowhere near as satisfying as browsint the print copy of PW. Typing on it is just plain awful.

    Have you considered offering the magazine in EPub format which is pretty much universally available on tablets and real computers? And not as proprietary as the Adobe formats?

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      The problem with a true ePub is the layout. We work hard to get the images onto the page where they make sense in terms of the text; you can’t do that in an ePub when you have a lot of pictures; frankly, it ends up looking like crap, and makes things hard to follow.

      IMHO, I _don’t_ think an app is a better reading experience than a PDF (which looks exactly like the print mag page). But one thing it allows you to do that Adobe doesn’t (for the iPad) is to embed a video or a slideshow – so instead, we just link to the video and/or slideshow, etc. online. I actually prefer that…but I would, because it’s what I’m used to.

      I prefer the PDF also because the full subscription $$ comes to us, rather than having to split it with Apple, Nook, etc. What can I say…cat food costs money.

      1. Clay Dowling

        I’m inclined to think that extras such as videos and slide shows are best served by putting them exactly where you do now: in the online extras section of your website. Unlike the print edition, linking works from PDFs, making it really easy to follow.

      2. stevehva

        Megan, keep up the great work at PW. You and the entire staff are truly doing a great job. As you have already learned, there are as many opinions out there regarding electronic delivery as there are methods for dovetailing. How you are able to keep your sense of humor when dealing with customers who range from those who, apparently, didn’t refill their meds this month (Cagenuts), to adolescents (NealNNY), to pragmatists (Clay) is admirable. Both the print version of PW and the digital version have their usefulness. More importantly, in either version, the content is excellent. Not sure what value an app (either for iOS or Android) will bring over the current PDF file format, but that’s your call. Again, thank you for your hard work… and patience with us.

        1. BobGroh

          I would double down on what ‘Stevehva’ said. You and the staff at PW are doing a heck of a good job. I thoroughly enjoy my subscription and look forward to the arrival of each issue with great anticipation. I absolutely prefer the printed version although I would also love to have the pdf version (at no extra money, of course!!).

    2. Clay Dowling

      Try installing the Acrobat Reader app from the Amazon app store. I have an older 7″ kindle fire, and I can read PDFs quite well on it, so long as I’m using the Adobe reader rather than the one that comes built in. Your newer hardware with its improved screen should be great. I rather like my 10″ tablet for bringing into the shop. The lack of moving parts means it isn’t likely to be a dust victim.

  6. NoelNNY

    I’m with Cagenuts – if the beloved Apple is so wonderful above everything else – why is there only one bite take out of it?? If it is sooooooo goooood – the icon should in essence be a real skinny apple core, shouldn’t it????

  7. DonPeregoy

    I would never want to give up my print copy (way more versatile and readable). I have though found real value in having the duel subscription. Hopefully this option will continue to be available.

  8. David RandallDavid Randall

    That’s handy Megan!

    I bought an iPad a couple of years ago to get the dimensions right for hand cutting Roubo-style iPad stands from Sapele for customers. Now the iPad sits on a stand to play music, read blogs, and type comfortably in the workshop – not a good environment for a laptop with keys.

    I’ll buy your App!

  9. cagenuts

    Please don’t tell me this is only for cr@pple owners? At least move into the 21st century and make it available for those whose tablets didn’t come with a complimentary jar of Vaseline.

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      I have an e-mail into the development team to find out. I do know we have our own PDF version (which, of course, works on any PDF-enabled reader), and there are already subscriptions and single issues available through Zinio and GooglePlay, and for the Nook and Kindle.

      1. PWFan

        Please! Keep it simple with PDF! Since most people can read PDFs, it’ll be less work for you, your staff ,and readers trying to keep up/ to stick with that format.

        I love re-reading articles, even really old ones, and I have the best chance of continuing to browse through memory lane and learn/ re-learn things years later if things are kept accessible. If I must stop subscribing to the print version (which I prefer) for one reason or other, I want an electronic format that’s not as ephemeral as the lifespan of hardware or software versions.

        The materials, methods, and projects covered in PWW don’t have planned obselescence built-in. Let’s not plan obselescence into the magazine format.

    2. Clay Dowling

      I can confirm that PDFs on a 10″ tablet, which can be had quite reasonably, are delightful in the workshop. I’ve even brought them in the garage, so I can use my motorcycle’s manual in PDF form. If you install the Adobe reader rather than the built in one that comes with most tablets, you’ll have an excellent experience. In fact, I’m planning to build the book stand from last month’s issue to make it easier to use in the shop.

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