When people talk about the future of books and adding interactivity like videos to ebooks, I’ve always been skeptical. What’s wrong with the existing way people interact with books — turning the page for new content? I’m a happy owner of a Paperwhite Kindle and have read hundreds of books on it without complaint. I don’t think I’d appreciate all the distractions an interactive ebook would pose — sometimes I just want to unplug a little and read a book like I would a dead-tree book.
That was my thinking before downloading the Sunset Magazine iPad app. I’d been subscribed to it ever since Will gifted me a a subscription two or three years ago. I think early in the subscription, Will tried getting the digital copy online and it was a terrible experience because we had to get it through some third party app and it just wasn’t worth it.
Fast forward a year or so and now there’s a standalone app and it’s wonderful! While I may not want my regular books to be interactive, I can now appreciate how useful it is to have a magazine be more interactive. The pictures and design are gorgeous on the iPad’s retina screen, but best of all is how intuitive the app is. Swipe to change articles. Scroll down to read more of the same article. There are boxes and bubbles I can tap to view more information. It all just works so well.
The only thing that doesn’t work so well are the ads, which sometimes are displayed jarringly because they were sold to be the size to fit in a physical magazine, but look out of place on their own in the app. I’m sure they’ll work it out once they figure out how to sell different ads in the iOS version of the magazine.
After using the Sunset app, when I went back to using the Harper’s Magazine app, the difference was jarring. Sunset illustrates how a digital magazine should be. Harper’s illustrates how it shouldn’t.