POST claims to be “the world’s first independently published magazine exclusively for the iPad”. Presumably other than Sideways, Project, Letter to Jane, TRVL, and any others – feel free to mention yours in the comments.
Such silliness aside, it’s a high-end fashion magazine with its own interface that contains plenty of embedded video. It’s been created by some fairly big names in the independent fashion mag world, and has some original navigation ideas, some clever video integration and a number of bespoke ads.
But is it any good?
An iPad-only independent magazine focused on “art, film, fashion and photography in a post-physical world,” it’s about “what’s exciting today and tomorrow.”
Former Dazed and Confused art director Remy Paringaux, former Tank senior editor Xerxes Cook, Manzine‘s (formerly Tank and Arena‘s) Peter Lyle, and editor of the always-excellent super/collider Chris Hatherhill. The publisher is Meri Media, founded by Paringaux (the company name is a transposing of the syllables in Remy).
Trendsetters, arty fashionistas, people who read Dazed, advertisers/publishers who want to hire Meri to make interactive digital content.
• It’s horizontal only, using the traditional side-swipe to move on, up and down to read/see more.
• The auto-loading of the videos each time makes the sideswiping a little choppy at times.
• There’s an innovation in the text nav – you slide individual columns up and down to read, rather than splitting text across screens. It kind of works, with pull quotes sliding neatly up with each column, but it doesn’t keep your place if you accidentally swipe off it, and quickly gets annoying.
• Small images that accompany one of the articles can’t be tapped big as you might expect them to be, and they’re too small to see clearly.
• A single tap brings up the bottom nav bar and the top bar containing Browse function (see above) and credits.
• The iPad processor seems to struggle a little with so much video, but a few nav niggles aside, the principles are pretty sound.
Four ads, all bespoke and created by Meri: an Alexander McQueen video, a refreshingly brightly coloured (given the grey/black nature of the rest of the magazine) Stella McCartney animated logo that leads to her app, which was also made by Meri, and a four-part ad feature on Edun’s project with Kenyan schoolchildren including a swipeable gallery, a link to the website (which loads out of app) and a one-minute documentary. Plus an ad for the next issue.
The first three are only marked as ads under “Browse”, not as you swipe through.
The theme of this issue is Matter, though it’s approached in a somewhat arch manner, with some features more clearly on-theme than others.
The first thing you notice, after you’ve swiped away the striking cover of a slow-mo man on fire, is what’s not in it – there’s no print-style contents page, for instance. (There’s actually a “Browse” function that does the same thing, but it’s hidden at the top, and you’ll probably only tap it last, just to see what it does, and then wish you’d known about it earlier.)
There are numerous elements to POST that feel distinctly, gloriously digital: the opening pages to features are often hypnotically animated; some features have their own slightly creepy new-age soundtrack, all the elements of which – it turns out – are approximations of the noises made by the Large Hadron Collider with which you can play at the end; two ethereal fashion shoots are perhaps the strongest elements of all, shot as artistic short films; director Gaspar Noe is filmed – with professional film production values – answering a Q+A, in which you can select the order of the questions; there’s a very neat spoof of early iPad book The Elements with The Periodic Table of Accessories (the first iPad-only parody?); there are text interviews with an interesting artist and a groundbreaking architect, followed by barely-moving subtle video of their work.
Most of these are at least mildly diverting. There’s nothing completely gripping in there, and there are certainly a few missteps in its small offering: it ends on a painfully pretentious piece about “the importance of POST magazine” related to McLuhan theory; the accessories in that spoof Periodic Table are hideous; a Front of Book-style page Currents feels too scattered, and features an irritating and repetitious navigation method that highlights how little content there is; the Miltos Manetas short films are outrageously self-indulgent, with little prior context to compel the user to watch, and are far too long for this format.
In all, there are 15 features, including the four multimedia ads – not much, and you can swipe through it all in no time – but that can be explained by the high production values, and to be fair to it, there’s quite a lot of reading/watching to be had if you feel inclined to go through it all.
There’s also a complete absence of social media integration, which actually feels kind of refreshing – and probably right for this kind of publication, which seeks to create its own world, not push you to talk out of it.
Sold as “POST-print”, this certainly doesn’t feel like a PDF with benefits. The strongest thing to say about it is that it has a clear, haunting filmic atmosphere to the entire piece that lingers afterwards, and it also employs some interesting design choices that are worth looking at if you’re in the industry. I also give it more than a few bonus points for its high production values and complete confidence in its ability to present unashamedly obtuse content, all within a very murky colour scheme.
It does, however, suffer more than a little from aching coolness, lack of wit, and occasional coldness.
Next time, I’d hope for more content, a slightly more varied feel (the constant soundtrack was a neat idea but it didn’t help suggest variation in tone), and a few more things to read, perhaps with a Letter To Jane-style ability to pull out the text alone if I want to, as those scrolling columns quickly got on my nerves.
But I will buy it next time, when the theme is apparently “Gravity”, especially if the price remains the same. POST doesn’t prove that print is over – but it does have some interesting ideas for what could come next. And as a showcase for Meri’s production abilities, it does the job very nicely indeed.