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Best Digital Magazine Publishing Software You Can Use to Launch Your Digital Magazine

Digital magazine publishing software is important – which option are you using?

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Publishers have been trying out digital magazine publishing software during the past few years in hopes of creating the best digital products for their audiences. And, like everything else in digital magazine land, digital magazine software has evolved at light speed. And so has its pricing.

Since the last time we took a stroll through the world of digital magazine software, we’ve had quite a few suggestions in the comments below for additional options that publishers can use for their app editions. So we’ve checked them out, double-checked previously published information, and present all of them here for you to consider if you’re still looking for the right software.

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DMMS

Consumers are telling us loud and clear what they want—are you listening? How much would you pay for that information? Download a copy of What Consumers Want from Digital Magazines and How to Meet Their Needs for FREE instead, to find out how you can improve your digital magazine rapport with subscribers. Download now.

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Major digital magazine publishing software options

01-digital-magazine-publishing-software-is-important-which-option-are-you-usingAdobe Digital Publishing Suite: The Adobe Publishing Suite is one digital magazine publishing software option that offers a complete digital publishing solution. It allows users to publish for print, web, and tablets seamlessly. As the company notes, the tools for creating your app are free to use if you already have InDesign CS6 or later, and you only sign a license with them when you’re ready to actually publish.

However, DPS is aimed at multi-title publishers. A Professional license allows the very smallest publishers to publish one title only. If you want additional platforms, the license cost goes up to $6,000 a year. There’s also a fee of $.35 per download.

This is a switch from earlier pricing, which allowed multiple titles in the Pro option. Adobe now encourages publishers with three or more titles to move up to its pricey Enterprise option, which is priced individually for each customer. “We look at the overall organization, how much they might be saving in print costs, and other business considerations before we can tell you what the costs will be,” a senior Adobe rep told a blogger. While once you could actually get an Enterprise license for a mere $50,000 up front, Enterprise prices can now be in five figures per month. And few niche publishers can afford that for digital magazine publishing software.

And since we’re all about the little guy at Mequoda, we have a partnership with …

Mag+: A spin-out company derived from Bonnier Corp.’s very early Popular Science app, Mag+ is Mequoda’s go-to provider. We generally direct our niche clients their way.

We find that Mag+’s digital magazine publishing software Designd has a feature set and functionality similar to Adobe, and also support our best practices such as content reflow and including HTML links and other interactive features. But Mag+ is simply more affordable for small publishers, both the base price and the entitlement price for downloading issues to clients’ subscribers.

02-digital-magazine-publishing-software-is-important-which-option-are-you-usingThe cost is $8,388  per year ($699 per month) for enterprise features most publishers need, including adding a log-in to your app to gate your content. It allows you to publish one title to all devices, (multiple issues), similar to the DPS price, but with Mag+ you get 1 terabyte of downloads per month included, more than enough data for 99% of apps.

Unlike Adobe, who charges a fixed fee per download and files must be hosted with Adobe, Mag+ allows publishers – including our clients who use Haven Gate, our comprehensive premium subscription management module – to host their digital magazines themselves. So you don’t even have to pay that entitlement cost.

As I’ve mentioned before, this also allows you to eliminate the app store and newsstand middlemen at Apple, Google and Amazon and keep the cut you’d normally owe them for each issue sold. Another benefit: You also control your own subscription offers, including copy, price, and incentive testing, not to mention offer tracking and data harvesting.

Another benefit of Mag+, in our experience, is that the culture there is more compatible with ours as champions of the independent publisher. Their executive team is open and honest, and very willing to answer questions and work with small publishers. At Adobe, not surprisingly, you’ll find a closed culture where you’re routed to resellers who often know less than you do about digital magazine publishing, and little if any support comes from Adobe itself.

Frankly, we still expect that Mag+ will eventually pass Adobe and take over the #1 slot, because there are simply more independent small titles than there are companies like Hearst, Meredith and Time Inc.

------------------------------------------------

DMMS

Consumers are telling us loud and clear what they want—are you listening? How much would you pay for that information? Download a copy of What Consumers Want from Digital Magazines and How to Meet Their Needs for FREE instead, to find out how you can improve your digital magazine rapport with subscribers. Download now.

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Other digital magazine software options to consider

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ZinioPro: You’re probably very familiar with Zinio, and in previous versions of this list we didn’t include them because they’re part of a somewhat closed magazine ecosystem. However we’re adding them this time because they have a new offering called ZinioPro, which extracts XML from print issues and allows the content to be reused in responsive apps, on the web, and in social channels. Zinio is also working hard at increasing their arsenal of distribution partners, making magazines available from online retailers and in some app stores and newsstands.

YUDU: This company offers digital magazine publishing software in a full range. You can start with simple PDF uploads and turn them into browser-based editions and apps. As YUDU co-founder Les commented below, it has a vast range of impressive names on its client list, so it must be doing something right. The first thing we noticed, though, was that it’s the only digital magazine publishing software company we checked out that follows our own Best Practice of offering a free white paper in exchange for an email address. Well done!

YUDU offers an option for a web-based magazine with “excellent performance on all devices” via PageTiler technology. This is a browser-based newsstand, allowing consumers to flip through pages of a magazine without installing an app.

GTxcel: Texterity and Godengo merged to create this digital magazine publishing software company which provides not just app publishing, but websites, as well. With the Unified Publishing Platform, you create the content, and Godengo translates it for every platform you need. Clearly, this is more costly than just paying a company for the tools to publish an app, but its one-and-done approach might be a good fit if you haven’t gone digital yet because you’re reluctant to hire a staff to do it.

BlueToad: Similar to GTxcel’s offerings, BlueToad provides digital magazine publishing software for digital editions and mobile apps. BlueToad takes PDFs and turns them into viewable formats online. We have some clients – small niche publishers, naturally – who jumped into digital publishing before Mag+ arrived and found BlueToad fit their needs satisfactorily. Another of their customers says, “They have been essential in developing our digital audience, by allowing us to focus strictly on content, while they focus on delivering our content platform independently. Since we first began using digital editions and apps with BlueToad, reader page views have grown ten-fold.” Ten-fold is a very good thing!

PressPad: The pricing model on PressPad is tempting; it’s free to publish enhanced versions of your PDF magazine, and PressPad keeps the first $299 your app earns each month.  One feature of particular note: PressPad automatically generates a free sample issue of your magazine when you upload an issue (or you can choose to create your own). A free sample issue is one of Mequoda’s app magazine Best Practices, but far too many publishers ignore it.

Issuu: As a reader notes in the comments below, you can test the digital waters for free with this company. Issuu provides a digital reader to embed on your website that allows readers to access a simple version of your magazine. Issuu makes its money by selling advertising on the readers, or from the small fee ($312-$420 a year, depending on extra features you want) you can opt to pay to get an ad-free reader. All magazines on Issuu are free, but our commenter below says he’s found a work-around that allows him to sell subscriptions.

XFlip: Also suggested by a commenter, this digital magazine publishing software company lets you create simple flipbook versions of your magazine. We’re just not fans of flip books in this advanced digital age, and the reader engagement with this type of format tends to be low, so we wouldn’t recommend this to our Gold Members, but it is an option that’s out there. We also note that XFlip seems to be dramatically discounting its product which concerns us: On the day we checked, their rates were severely discounted (from $399 to $99 for the Lite option, $899 to $299 for Pro, and $1,999 to $999 for Enterprise), plus, when I tried to leave the page, I got a popup offering an additional 10% off.

Mequoda has its own solution, too, through our partnership with Mag+.  We’ve already helped Gold Member Prime Publishing develop what we believe is the first-ever web magazine, delivering a full, page-by-page, rich-media experience in a web browser, making it accessible on any device.)

As the magazine and newsletter industries continue down the path of digital evolution, new product solutions will reach the market. What does the future of digital magazine publishing software hold? Have you tried any of these digital magazine publishing software solutions listed above? Are there other companies you prefer to create your digital editions and mobile magazine apps? Please share your experiences with us.

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This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated.

Posted in Digital Magazine Publishing

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44 thoughts on “Best Digital Magazine Publishing Software You Can Use to Launch Your Digital Magazine

  1. Luna says:

    Well, XFlip digital publishing software is similar to BlueToad, it can also convert PDFs into viewable formats online that can be read on iPad, tablets, iPhone and other mobile devices through internet. It allows users to publish for print, the web, and set download function for the magazine.

  2. We’ve tried Uberflip but found that while it’s great on a tablet it is not so great on a desktop and 50% of our readers are still using their desktops to read our magazine. Plus when you blow it up for a better look the videos don’t work. We’re going to give Magazine Manager’s Digital Studio a try. The demo we saw looks great but we’ll know for sure how it works in another couple of months.

  3. Ed Coburn says:

    Thank you Donna. I will be interested to hear how it goes. Through our research we’ve found Mag+ to be the best value. It’s a dynamic field so we’ll watch it closely.

  4. Ed Coburn says:

    We will take a look at Lucidpress too when we update this article next.

  5. Digital publishing is really a good option in today’s world. Most of the people are preferring the digital content to read as it is easily accessible, portable, many times it is free and it is also easy to share. The information given in post about the different softwares is really good and helpful.

  6. Agree Matthew. Anyway posts are aging : ) so let me update it little bit. I am encouraging every publisher to try PressPad, a shopify platform for magazine publishers. Thanks to its unique business model PressPad will add your magazine or comic to the App Store for $0

  7. Ed, what no YUDU.com ? on your review…

    lol

    Perhaps on an update ? after all it is the power behind Quad Graphics(clients)Time Out,Saturday Evening post and hundreds of other Magazines and 1’000’s world wide 😉

    Les

  8. Bill Wehrman says:

    Small publishers who do not expect to make money from digital editions but want to experiment at low cost can consider Issuu (issuu.com). Publishers can upload pages for free and have a flip book in a matter of minutes that has ads on the page when someone visits the website. Or, publishers can pay a small fee (about $125 annually)and there are no ads on the page with your magazine, and you can “hide” your titles from searches on Issuu and set up your own work-around for paid subs (not foolproof, but not difficult). Issuu allows you to embed the url containing specific issues of your magazines on your website or others and in promo emails. You can create an app on your own (or have someone do it) that is populated from the url Issuu gives you. Worth a look.

  9. Ed says:

    @ Les — thanks. Will look at that when we update, as you suggest.

  10. Darrin says:

    It should be noted that Adobe DPS as of December 1st 2014 eliminated the per folio download fee. https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1648265

  11. Ed says:

    Thank you Darrin. We have noted that Adobe has recently revised their pricing structure, although, as they note on that forum the overall cost is expected to be about the same, and while they are making part of their pricing policy transparent, in the forum you have linked to the Adobe staffer makes it abundantly clear in multiple instances that specifics of the pricing scheme are not as transparent and must be obtained from a reseller. This new pricing development, while of interest to Adobe DPS users, does not alter our view that DPS is not well-suited for most niche publishers.

  12. Elizabeth Yale says:

    Its so surprising to see that MAGZTER – the world’s largest digital Newsstand has not been mentioned in this article.

    I tried using quite a few platforms for my magazine in the past, but now I’ve got onto Magzter and it proves to be the best choice made.
    What attracted me the most is that there is NO UPFRONT COST. Simple revenue share model, nice
    back end publisher dashboard, free tools to make magazine interactive – tools like MagCMS and MagEnhance used to give a similar outputs as Adobe DPS are few specialities that needs a mention. I had to spend nothing to go digital and i also had a Apple Newsstand App and Android (Google play) apps created for free.

    Their 23+ million user base and 1+ million Facebook fans has delighted me with a hike in sales. I’ve now stopped using any others. Signing up with Magzter is the simplest. Just go to their website http://www.magzter.com and click on Publishers on the top bar and it’s a 5 min job to get on board!

  13. jakob says:

    When you update your article make sure to check out FlipandShare.com as well. This product is part of Mirabel Technology who has offered digital editions for years to more than 12.000 publications world wide. They have a large suite for CRM, Ad Order Entry, AR, Production, Pagination, and Digital Editions all integrated and have recently created FlipandShare for publishers who do not want their entire package.

    Free account is offered and you pay as you publish, its only $1.00 a page and your published on the web, Apple, Android, and Kindle tablets through their newsstand. They also offer Branded apps. It a great product that is easy to use and offers a lot of interactivity and rich media. It is worth checking out.

  14. Ed says:

    Thank you Elizabeth and Jakob. We will certainly look into those when we update this next.

  15. Leo says:

    Strange Joomag isn’t mentioned. I like the pricing and the extra stuff (video, sound, flash snippets) you can build into your magazine. I ended preferring it to issuu.

  16. Indeed, Leo took the words right out of my mouth. As a avid publisher through Joomag, The Vintage Business Magazine has dipped toes in the waters of every other site but we’ve always come back to Joomag….

    Always keen to explore other avenues so will be looking into all the sites mentioned here in the article – thank you 🙂

  17. Ed Coburn says:

    Thank you Leo and Michelle. We will look at Joomag when we update this next.

  18. Per M says:

    Hi Ed! I am currently doing a review of the various digital publishing systems ( Mag + , adobe , etc.) available on the market right now and have found very useful information at mequoda . What I do find it difficult to find is a list of what platforms the major newspapers are using in making their digital editions , for example WSJ , Bloomberg, Yahoo News Digest, NY Times , the Economist Espresso and others. Do you know where I can find this information ?
    Thank U!

  19. Ed says:

    Thank you Per. Interesting timing. We had done some research in that area years ago and were just discussing whether to update it. Last week we decided not to because the newspaper sub-industry has different issues from most of our clients and while much of what we do is transferable it doesn’t play as much to our strengths. The National Newspaper Publishers Association (www.nnpa.org) or the Newspaper Association of America (www.naa.org) ought to be able to point you in right direction.

  20. Richard P says:

    Also check: BlackMonk

  21. Stephanie says:

    Check out eMagCreator! It’s an interesting and very flexible option. They offer both an online drag and drop solution as well as a full-featured desktop software. It is a PDF to digital solution.

    The software allows complete customization of the digital publication – rich media, links, API, web content, etc. And publications are completely white labeled for companies to add their branding and can be published to any location, as well as offline.

    The online solution is super simple and allows publishers to share individual eMags or their own public page, which has no related content.

    Overall, I think it is a solution that is very interesting to this list. Both the online drag and drop, as well as the eMagStudio desktop software, can be tested for free. The pricing is very flexible and competitive with other providers. There are solutions for every budget, and the eMagCreator team is willing to put together custom quotes for anything that is not listed on the site – including for Apps. Every solution includes completely unlimited publishing. Definitely take a look at emagcreator.com and the eMagStudio software for the next iteration of this!

  22. eston says:

    Hi
    Can someone tell me a little about mag+? I check out their site but something I don’t understand. When you purchase a plan (either 499 or 699$) plan it says I can publish one app but multiple issues, what I want to know will I be able to publish that one app one iOS, android and kindle at same time without any other cost?

    Which other software cud I check out that will not just be a normal pdf? I don’t have a magazine as yet

  23. eston says:

    also anyone have experience with IN HOuse Digital Publishing?
    http://www.inhousedigitalpublishing.com

    how would they compare with Mag+? I like mag+ but dont like the monthly fee

  24. Nick says:

    Hi Ed, really nice list of digital magazine providers. I’d be happy to tell you more about MagLoft when you update this article. It’s becoming quite the contestant now 🙂

  25. Ed says:

    Thank you Nick. Well keep it in mind.

  26. Hi everyone!

    We launched a new CRM, Production and Billing platform for Magazine Publishers in January of 2015. Start your free trial at http://www.runmags.com/signup/

  27. Malcolm says:

    PressPad no longer offers a free version… starter package is $99 a month…

    1. Exactly PressPad no longer offers a rev share model. Now you can start from $99 per month for iOS app but the prices are negotiable. What’s more PressPad has started offering also WordPress branded News app https://www.presspadnews.com so there is an option for web magazines and blogs to go mobile to increase reading experience and improve mobile users retention to website.

  28. SB says:

    Anyone try 3D Issue? or Zmags? I’ve heard some great things about 3D, and online samples look nice.

  29. KM says:

    Came across this article and just wanted to warn potential consumers about Mag+. Our company is currently a customer of theirs and in the midst of a 12 month contract. The software is extremely temperamental and we are constantly experiencing problems. It has become just a headache, and quite frankly an embarrassment for our customers to tell us that the app randomly closes on them or has glitches… We have actually stopped using it altogether although we still have a monthly bill that comes.
    We have reached out to several members of their customer service department, but once they get you to sign that contract it seems they do not care about working with you or if you are happy or not with the product.

    1. GTxcel says:

      Have you thought about other options?

  30. Vesna says:

    Hi Ed, really great list of digital magazine software providers. Please check out http://www.editiondigital.com when you update your article next. It is a great solution for publishers who want to create highly interactive and engaging digital magazines and sell them through their own branded newsstand that they can set up in minutes and/or through native branded apps. Thank you!

  31. Krista says:

    Hi Ed,
    Thank you for the great list of providers! When you’re looking to update your post, please check out http://www.paperlit.com – a simple tool to create interactive digital magazines (replicas and reflows) and distribute them via a branded newsstand app. Would be more than happy to set up a demo and answer any questions you have. Thanks!

  32. Rich Cook says:

    Why not just use ePub, whether reflow ab,e or fixed layout? A simple $55 a month subscription gets you Adobe CC with InDesign, which creates excellent epubs. Then readers can simply download to their favorite ereader app and enjoy. Plus export to HTML or Markdown in my case. That’s my strategy (note that I produce a small publication where reflow able works well and while I follow many of the Mequoda methods, I am not a customer because my publication isn’t at that level…yet!).

    I’m not discounting the apps mentioned in the article or the many excellent comments; I’m asking the question because I may have missed something critical as to why to NOT use ePub in this fashion. What are some valid reasons to avoid ePub, either reflow able or fixed layout?

  33. Bob Dawson says:

    We are currently using Paperlit. I don’t love it but I don’t hate it and it’s got a pretty good publishers portal for customizing issues and a pretty good admin component. I wonder if there’s a reason you excluded them from your report?

  34. Hi Bob,
    thanks for the comment. We are currently investing a lot in the product and we are going to make a few very important announcements in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

    We are one of the most active companies in this field, I hope we will be mentioned in the next update of this post.

    Thanks!

    Luca
    CEO | Paperlit

  35. Ruben Gees says:

    A new kid in town: http://www.magazine.live
    Its the easiest tool to create mobile first magazines.

  36. Hi Ed – We took an approach with the interest of eliminating the need for apps for the digital magazine and have launched https://vertiqul.com as a full service digital magazine or digital edition service from existing print layout files. As we hand design each issue we may not be cost effective for every startup but hope the value of the experience and magazine revenue support for any existing publisher make it a logical option. We know others are moving toward HTML5 editions and will also have vertical edition solutions that are easily viewable on any device and many options are on the horizon. We are experimenting with our first customers but keeping a focus on the UX and readability plus keeping the advertising and linear magazine structure in place for every issue. Thank you for your consideration.

  37. George says:

    Strategy and marketing question: in the article you recommend Mag+ because it “allows you to eliminate the app store and newsstand middlemen at Apple, Google and Amazon and keep the cut you’d normally owe them for each issue sold.” While I appreciate the margin enhancement, there is marketing value to these middlemen in terms of reaching new readers and driving new purchases/subscriptions. So, does Mag+ enable publishers to utilize these newsstand platforms in addition to publishing your own digital magazine app as part of a diverse channel distribution strategy?

    1. Amanda says:

      Hi George,

      We absolutely agree and we believe in doing both. Mag+ publishes to all app stores, but also allows you to sell through your own site.

  38. Andy says:

    Another good solution and not on y is http://www.tablish.co.uk with a very easy to use drag and drop editor to add videos, links etc.

  39. Geert says:

    Try responsive digital publishing!

    https://www.wp-magazines.com/

    WordPress based, simple, powerful & 100% responsive

    WP-magazines the responsive publishing platform for marketing professionals, designers and publishers. Would you like to publish your own online magazines and articles? Then get started with a free WP-Magazines responsive digital publishing account. Signing up just takes 30 seconds. It’s that easy to start.

  40. Robert Frank says:

    Another tool that is a must have for anyone publishing content routinely is Copyleaks. I’ve been using their service for the past 6 months and have been notified numerous times when my content is being used elsewhere. I highly suggest it for content creators.

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