How expensive should it be to publish an iPad magazine app? If you said it should cost at least £7003 ($11,537) per year, then you’ll like the deal Adobe is offering with the latest version of its Digital Publishing Suite, the iPad magazine InDesign plugin.

Designer Elliot Jay Stocks blogs about Adobe’s pricing scheme, which involves a £3636 platform fee plus a minimum of £3367 set toward the .16 per issue Distribution Service Fee Adobe charges.This is in addition to the cost of the software itself, which doesn’t exactly come cheap, and the 30% fee Apple charges for each issue.

Writes Stocks:

These fees may be a drop in the ocean for large publishing houses, but for those of us who publish on a more independent scale, we’re effectively being priced out of the market. It’s certainly possible to make a profit with Adobe’s model, but it requires a huge audience to make that investment a viable one. If you doubted the worth of producing an iPad magazine due to the extra production time involved, then you have even more reason for concern in the wake of this news from Adobe.

However, the biggest problem I have with this model is not necessarily the actual costs; it’s the fact that Adobe are asking for even more of our money. Not content with charging outrageous prices for bloated, processor-intensive, crash-happy software, they want to make the publishing industry exclusive once again and ignore the last 25 years that fostered such innovation.

He points out the recent criticism of iPad apps as being bloated, poorly-built, and generally inferior to web- or HTML5-based apps, and suggests that it might be a good idea to go ahead with them rather than pay Adobe’s danegeld.

Stocks sees three possible outcomes: people bite the bullet and use Adobe’s software, they switch to one of Adobe’s competitors, or (the one he hopes for) people start realizing that individual magazine apps don’t make sense and make better browser-based experiences instead (which will improve things for everyone).

I think the third option is the best one to hope for, too. The great thing about e-publishing is the egalitarianism of it—electrons don’t cost that much money, so folks with few resources can put together as good an experience as the big boys. Or at least, they should be able to in theory if they’re not being priced out of the market.


  1. Maybe I’m semi-old-fashioned… but what’s wrong with something like Zinio, where you can just READ the freakin’ magazine as it was originally laid out, no funny business? And no internet connection required except to download it originally…

  2. I saw a demo of the iPad publishing tools in InDesign and it made me want to consider launching a iPad only magazine. However, when I saw that the content had to be stored on Adobe’s server and the fees that they charged, I agree it is a total non-starter, especially on top of the additional 30% that apple is charging. Up until now, Adobe made their money from selling software and Apple from hardware. Why are they now trying to line their pockets on the backs of people that create products using their tools? Basically, unless you are a major media concern, you need not apply to this party and I am not sure many of them are going to jump on board.

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