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Sideways magazine for iPad features in-app transactions

Sideways, a magazine designed and written exclusively for the iPad, claims that its October issue is the first of its kind to enable transactions.

The latest issue also explores new forms of storytelling with a feature that incorporates chronological mapping. The monetization strategy is based around the “advertorial” model, where an article is paired with related products that application users can click to buy.

“Sideways LLC developed this magazine for the iPad called ‘Sideways’ in order to create a monthly, iterative platform that allows our designers and developers to explore the form and limits of the technology available for the iPad,” said Eliza Wing, president and chief operating officer of Sideways, Cleveland.

“Sideways is focused on producing multimedia, multi-touch, multi-user digital productions, whether they are digital versions of print books, magazines or other iPad-appropriate products,” she said.

Ms. Wing was formerly the CEO of and editor at Rolling Stone, New York Woman and, which is now owned by Barnes & Noble.

Experimental application magazine Sideways’ goal is to transform print into immersive experiences on digital tablets and mobile devices.

The company’s publishing platform augments text with rich media, adds multiple levels of reference and enhances reading with mobile features and social media.

Additionally, Sideways is the creator of Author App, a mobile application for authors designed to build their brands, engage their fans and expand their presence.

Mobile media
Sideways is built in-house by the company’s development team and designers.

A sample of the Sideways October issue’s content is available for free in the iTunes App Store, with a $1.99 in-application purchase necessary to access the complete issue.

While there is no overall sponsor, in the October issue Sideways did create an advertorial section, which provides a thematically-based overview of tools and toys users can buy to channel their inner spy.

Information on hidden cameras, portable cameras, bug hunters are all available in the text of the article. Users can then touch the screen to purchase the item.

Sideways has previously integrated iTunes into its issues, creating iMixes that relate to features.

“We are focusing on the frictionless ecommerce experience that the iPad provides and utilizing features and design to explore those aspects of the device,” Ms. Wing said.

Sideways is employing PR and social media tactics to spread the word.

However, Ms. Wing said that the most important and effective tactic is issuing updates to prior issues to let subscribers know that a new issue is available.

“We have found that people respond positively to updates,” Ms. Wing said. “In addition, this month, we are offering a free sample to the October issue, followed by a $1.99 premium for the rest of the issue.

“Because Sideways is our own product, we have the ability to be flexible on pricing and release strategies,” she said. “We are able to give the feedback and learnings back to our clients.”

Editorial content
Sideways’ editor-in-chief Jim Sweeney works with freelancers to create the content.

Each month, Sideways reaches out to different artists or writers who are interested in stretching the narrative or design form using digital distribution as the means for their explorations.

A highlight of the October issue is a short story by Professor Dinty Moore, director of creative writing at Ohio University.

Using only a map, Professor Moore recounts his run-ins with famed author George Plimpton. Each map-marker is accompanied by a paragraph propelling the story.

In addition to Professor Moore’s “Mr. Plimpton’s Revenge” and the regular Sideways sections, the latest issue includes the following features:

• Special spy gear advertising section with deep links to retailers, enabling instant purchase of advertised items

• A look at which colleges have the best fictional alumni

• Interactive guide to chili peppers and hot sauces with do-it-yourself recipe

• Feature article on how social media improves writing

• Overview of tablets being released as rivals to the iPad

• Feature on best ways to watch video on the iPad

“In November, we will have a couple of guest designers who have been commissioned specifically to explore the user interface issues of the device,” Ms. Wing said.

Consumer insight
Interested in understanding its audience better, Sideways polled readers of the July issue to find out when and where they use their iPads as well as how they find new applications.

Results include the following:

• 93.3 percent use the iPad while relaxing

• 70.5 percent use the iPad while watching television

• 60.2 percent use the iPad while traveling

• 35.8 percent use the iPad while eating

• 18.1 percent use the iPad while also talking on the phone

• 78.7 percent search for applications on the device

• 19.1 percent search for applications on a laptop or desktop computer

“The magazine is general interest—however, we have surveyed our readers and plan on continuing that practice,” Ms. Wing said. “Our first survey, done in July, questioned our users’ content interests.

“A large majority was interested in technology—most had no interest in sports, fashion or relationships,” she said. “That knowledge certainly informed our subsequent issues.”

Final Take
Dan Butcher, associate editor, Mobile Commerce Daily