Zero Distraction / An Anthology of Examined Nerdy Things

Static Images

I decided to try out Wired magazine on the iPad. Since I’m only familiar with their print magazine, I figured their digital version would be as nicely laid out as the print version. Clearly I’m far too naive.

It seems like they got the pricing just right. At $1.99 per month, or $19.99 for a year, there’s no question that this is very affordable pricing. In fact, this pricing structure undercuts the print magazine at $5.99 per issue. Of course this is as it should be — paying the same or more for a digital only subscription is completely unrealistic today (sadly many publications have yet to figure this out).

After subscribing, I downloaded the gargantuan April issue at 789MB. The good news is it took less than five minutes to download over LTE (there goes my data cap). The bad news is the user experience is absolutely horrible. The size alone is bad enough, however what’s worse than the file size is what follows (I’ll talk about the implications in just a moment):

  • Massive static images
  • No selectable text
  • No ability to share articles

When I first loaded the April edition, I started navigating through various articles. Every single article is simply a massive image, and thus needs to be rendered every time you look at it. There are many problems with this — the first and immediately noticeable being the page looks blurry for a second or two while it renders. The second major issue — this is a massive and glaring one — is there is simply no way to select any text inside an article. This also segues perfectly to the fact that you also can’t share articles via various social networks (or even email). Many times when I share an article I like, if I’m on any of my iOS devices, I like to select a passage of text and quote it, and then copy the link and share it on Twitter. The fact that I can’t do any of this is unacceptable in 2012.

I’ve known for a while that many publications have been releasing their newspapers and magazines as massive PDFs, however I figured this finally would have been sorted out by now.

Man, I was so naive.