As many of you will know, I get annoyed with magazines that I subscribe to and that insist on locking me into one technical eco-system or other. Osprey publishing has joined that group.
They have recently been promoting their World War II Military History Magazine. This magazine looks good, slick and in the quality we come to expect from Osprey. They have even offered a free PDF download so one can have a look at the magazine. The magazine itself contains one complete e-book from the Osprey range and near as I can work out, subscribing gives you complete access to all the back issues.
To be fair to Osprey, they publish their eBooks in PDF and ePub format.
Which now begs the question … why, of why, is the magazine only avaiable through the iTunes store. It is advertised as
available for iPad and iPhone, and subscriptions can be purchased for just £2.99 per month or £7.99 per quarter. Each issue is a real gem, so why not give it a try and unlock a world of fabulous material on the Second World War.
OK, earlier in their advertisement they note that each
issue includes a full Osprey series eBook, and is packed full of fascinating extra material from our archives and authors
Hey Osprey – there are other tablets out there other than iPads. In fact, iPads account for 39% of the total international tablet market. Android tablets account for 61% currently! So what possesses a company to cut off 2/3rds of its potential market?
Why don’t you make all issues of the magazine downloadable PDFs so folks can move it from one platform to another, in the same way I can move my Osprey eBooks? You can still offer it through iTunes (and as a PDF, through Play Store as well as the Windows 8 Marketplace. Why cut off 67% of your potential market?
On 23 August 2014 I published Digital Wargame Magazines Overdo It! here in Thomo’s Hole. The crux of the discussion was that some magazines do not provide PDF access to their content so you are locked into your platform (iPad, Android tablet etc) as there is no real cross-platform format except for PDF.
I sang the praises of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy from Karwansaray Publishers as they provide their publications in platform independent PDF format. I criticised Wargames Illustrated for allowing the technology to overshadow the content, making it hard to read as well as providing content locked to platform ensuring that either a spend a fortune repurchasing everything for a new platform or I stay stuck to Apple tablets.
I also criticised Miniature Wargames with Battlegames (MWBG) which is available through Exact Editions for not being available on PDF.
Henry Hyde, the editor of MWBG was quick to comment on Facebook, Twitter and here in the Hole where his comments to the post noted:
Giving Henry the benefit of the doubt, and knowing that I had looked at this before, I downloaded that PDF and checked and ‘lo and behold, there was no PDF version available for me. I looked further around in the Exact Editions website as I have an account. I had originally subscribed to Battlegames through Exact Editions.
Now Battlegames merged with Miniature Wargames around March/April 2013 and my Battlegames subscription expired about then. I had a subscription to Miniature Wargames at the same time, taken with Exact Editions through Apple iTunes (Newstand).
Henry will recall around that time there were a number of questions asked about subscriptions to both magazines and how they would be combined. I did nothing as my Miniature Wargames subscription was extant and any remaining issues I had to receive of Battlegames would be added to that subscription. In any case, I could not take out a Battlgames subscription then as I already had the Miniature Wargames subscription.
So, no PDF for Thomo.
I contacted Exact Editions support about this. My enquiry was:
Aug 25 18:11
I have had digital subscriptions to both Battlegames and Miniature Wargames
since 2012, both through Exact Editions.
Since the merger of the magazines, I understand that I should be able to
download PDF copies of the magazine. However, as you can see from the two
screen grabs below, Exact Editions does not seem to know that I have a
subscription even though I have a subscription.
Please advise on how I can access PDF versions of the magazine – as I am
thinking of changing platforms soon from the iPad to a MS Surface Pro and
will only be able to access via PDF.
Thanks for your assistance.
I received the following response:
Aug 26 16:40
Thank you for your email.
A subscription purchased through the Newsstand app does not include access via the Exact Editions website or PDF download.
For a multi-platform digital subscription, you will need to purchase through the Exact Editions web store., rather than through the Apple Newsstand app. An app subscription, only includes access via that specific app.
Do you still have an active subscription through the app? As the receipt which you forwarded in your email is for an annual subscription from March 2013. If you have not renewed this, I would recommend purchasing a digital subscription from the Exact Editions website, here –
So, it seems that PDF versions (or multi-platform as Daniel describes it) of MWBG are only available if you subscribe through their webstore – which was not an option when Miniature Wargames first came out.
I wonder how many other gamers are in the same position?
I like wargame magazines. It figures that I would, after all I am a wargamer. I have favourite magazines by way of content and others I like because of the eye-candy inside them. I also like technology such as smartphones, tablets and the like. So, you would think a marrying of the two – wargame magazines and technology – would be a perfect match for me.
Well, I would have thought so.
I used to get the paper versions of Wargames Illustrated, Miniature Wargames (now including Battlegames which was also a favoured paper publication) and Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy. When electronic versions of these came out I adopted them fairly quickly, after all, given my lifestyle of moving from place to place, electronic versions I can either carry with me in a device or park somewhere up in the cloud for access and reference later is a positive boon. It is the same with e-books. I have then in both my Kindle and my iPad.
So, “what’s the beef” I hear you say?
“Format and trying to be overly clever and sexy’ says I!
Yes, it is possible to be too sexy. Let’s look at this one at a time.
Wargames Illustrated was the second of the truly glossy colour wargaming magazines and has been running for 322 issues now (at around 12 per year, that is nearly 27 years). Calculating that figure just now made me think about my start in wargaming but I will come to that in another post.
Wargames illustrated does note, however that their
original plan for the launch for WI digital focused solely on an iPad version of the magazine, however after listening to your feedback we decided to slightly delay release and launch on all available formats – iPad, Kindle and Android. This means you can now access WI Digital from ANY TABLET device.
They also noted that
from WI316 the digital magazine will include a range of dynamic content, including: videos, 360-degree figure spins, image galleries, web links and more.
Here is the problem. Actually, here is two problems. The dynamic content is the magazine showing how clever they are technically. 360-degree views of figures, for example, or scrolling images within the article you’re reading. The problem with the scrolling images however is that it actually distracts from what you are reading. As you read, images are changing further down the page which drags your eyes away from the words and to the images. It takes longer to read an article and is much harder work.
The other problem is that I have subscribed in the past, and then purchased issues as well as archive issues on my iPad. No where can I see an option in the the Wargames Illustrated website to move the content I’ve purchased over to a different (but supported) operating system tablet. My iPad is over three years old now. I will want to replace it in the next few months and I was thinking of an Android tablet, which will fit better with my overall technology landscape here. My books (ePubs, PDFs and mobis) I can carry over. My Wargames Illustrated I can’t. So I either throw out a few hundred dollars worth of purchases and replace them with the Android version by spending another few hundred dollars, or buy another iPad which I don’t want to, or just stop buying Wargames Illustrated altogether which I also do not want to!
Miniature Wargames with Battlegames is a similar but with a slightly different problem. There was originally two magazines. Miniature Wargames was the first of the glossies and has now been running in one form or another for over 31 years. It was originally offered in electronic form on iPad’s Newstand. Battlegames is not nearly so old and was offered electronically through Exact Editions. Exact Editions is a reading app that is available on Apple and Android devices. Battlegames was therefore, arguably, portable. Miniature Wargames and Battlegames merged and those of us who had a Newstand subscription for Miniature Wargames and a separate Exact Editions subscription for Battlegames had our subscription extended for the Newstand version. Those who subscribed only to an Exact Editions Battlegames had the new combined magazine available in Exact Editions and as I understand, downloadable PDF versions as well.
Again, should I buy an Android tablet, I will lose my iPad content as there is no way for me to take that magazine across to another tablet operating system.
This brings me to the last Wargames magazine I read regularly – Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy. Karwansaray Publishers have done the decent thing and producted their magazine as a downloadable PDF. What does this mean? First off, there is no clever moving bits to distract my reading as there is in Wargames Illustrated. Secondly, I do not need to use a specific app to read it across multiple platforms like Miniature Wargames and Battlegames. Most importantly, I have flexibility. I do not have a magazine publisher telling me which operating system and tablet I should use.
It is time for me to replace my laptop as it is getting somewhat old and dated. It has served well over the last four years and continues to work as designed but it is starting to show it’s age. I was thinking of replacing it with a Microsoft Surface 3 or similar, in part because I need to use it for business and that still means Microsoft applications in most cases and partly because the surface acts like a tablet. I use my tablet mostly for reading books and magazines, watching the odd video or YouTube, doing a little mind mapping and the like and these days, rarely playing games (except Words with Friends and Chess which I can continue to play on my phone).
If I step in that direction then I will no longer read Wargames Illustrated or Miniature Wargames and only read Wargames Soldiers and Strategy as that is the only magazine that is both digital AND portable.
The other benefit that Wargames Soldiers and Strategy provides is that as it is a PDF, it adjusts to screen size and fits the viewing window, unlike the other two which are A4 sized magazines trying to fit into an American Quarto world.
So, well done Wargames Soldiers and Strategy and “boo, hiss” to the other magazines. Links to all magazines Facebook Pages are below.