Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hearst Makes Its iPad Debut With Esquire: Full Price, No Subscriptions

Hearst is the latest publisher to show up on the iPad, with a tabletized version of Esquire.* As always, you’re better off checking it out yourself then reading about it.

Still here? Okay:

  • As promised, Hearst is selling the app at the same price as the paper-and-ink version: $4.99. Squawk all you want, but “we have to reshape expectations” for digital pricing, says Esquire publisher Kevin O’Malley.
  • Hearst has talked about offering subscriptions to its iPad titles, but you can’t get one right now. And O’Malley doesn’t sound hopeful that he’ll be offering one through Apple’s (AAPL) store anytime soon. Join the club.
  • Like every one of its peers, Esquire on the iPad looks like the print magazine, with some multimedia bells and whistles. Unlike many apps, Esquire doesn’t provide a literal translation of the print copy. So it can’t count app sales as newsstand sales, but O’Malley seems fine with that. The upside for the reader is that Esquire doesn’t need to include every ad from the print edition, and instead features just two ads from a single sponsor–Lexus.
  • Many of the multimedia features are low-key grace notes, but that’s okay: You buy Esquire on the iPad because you want to read Esquire on the iPad, right?
  • But there are plenty of clever touches, like animated illustrations and a clip of Javier Bardem reciting poetry in Spanish. And, pretty much for giggles, a copy of Ivan Turgenev’s “First Love,” a 76,000-word novella published in 1860 (I didn’t know, either).
  • Some apps let you read their magazine in horizontal and vertical modes, while Time Warner’s (TWX) Sports Illustrated only works in horizontal mode (for now). But Esquire only works in vertical mode, and that feels just fine.

*This is Hearst’s first full-fledged iPad magazine, but if you want to be a stickler you can: The publisher has some of its titles available through Zinio’s PDF-reader service, and earlier this year it put out a partial version of a Popular Mechanics issue.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik