new-yorker-ipad-app Peter Kafka at All Things D’s MediaMemo has an interesting piece looking at the size problems with Condé Nast’s magazine iPad apps, such as the ones for Wired and the New Yorker. Wired’s app weighs in at half a gig for a monthly publication, and the New Yorker is 173 megabytes for a weekly.

Kafka explains that the blame can be placed on Adobe’s magazine app, which “essentially functions as an image reader”, turning each magazine page into “several big photos” rather than presenting it as text. The problem with presenting it as text in HTML, New Yorker Deputy Editor Pam McCarthy says, is that the Adobe app can’t paginate HTML—it just presents it in one long scrollable sheet, which she feels is suboptimal for reading a 10,000-word article.

McCarthy expects a version of Adobe’s software that supports HTML pagination to be available before too long, but even so the magazine doesn’t appear likely to shrink too much. And unless Apple and magazine publishers are able to iron out some kind of compromise, don’t look for subscription prices to be available either.

iPad magazine apps are pretty much a non-starter for me. I certainly don’t see any point spending too much money for a too big app that I can’t do as much with as I could a web version, and fixing the size issue will only change one of those problems.


  1. You are absolutely right Chris. These file sizes are insane and it really makes one wonder if these publishers are serious or just playing with the medium.
    Part of the problem of course is their daft choice of Adobe as the application. A company who’s products are notoriously bloated to excess. Producing output in html 5 can produce the same output in a fraction of the file size and if they are serious about gaining readers and subscribers they need to get with the program asap.

  2. Is there some reason the magazine publishers aren’t simply taking their page layouts (in InDesign, for example) and outputting them directly as PDF?

    Only an idiot would take the entire printed pages of text, scan them as whole-page jpegs, and publish a compilation of the jpegs, strung together with a few lines of PDF as a skeleton, as the final result. This seems to be what you say the publishers of WIRED and the NEW YORKER are doing. Better they should call Adobe’s help line.

    Properly done PDF is comparable in size to properly done HTML. Ya put in text, ya mark it up, ya include some jpegs for the images. The size of the included jpeg images is the same, HTML or PDF.

    Acrobat has plenty of issues, like reflow or the lack of it, and Adobe’s easy virtue when approached by DRM sellers, but what’s happening here is just silly.

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