As I was catching up on e-mail I saw one from Student Filmmakers that was an invitation to a complimentary issue of American Cinematographer magazine. I was more than happy to grab a free copy of AC as I don’t read it near as much as I should. I was also surprised to see the subscription price listed at $24.95 a year when subscribing through the store. That is a great deal considering that previously, a full subscription was quite a bit more expensive. They also offer both print and digital subscriptions for the same price. I tend toward digital magazine subscriptions these days since they are so easy to read on the iPad.

As I went to grab the free digital November edition of AC, however, I soon realized that it’s not the most iPad friendly of digital magazines. The magazine uses a technology called Nxtbook Media, described as “a leading-edge provider of digital publishing services to help clients market and distribute print materials in easy-to-read digital formats.” I seem to recall discussions of AC being iPad friendly but a further search found this quote about Nxtbook Media:

NxtBook Media, which creates digital editions for about 600 magazine publishers, believes that magazine publishers — B2B publishers in particular — may be better off providing Web-based access to digital editions instead of spending resources on developing iPad or iPhone apps.

Hmm, so much for a nicely formatted, well-balanced iPad version, I guess. To get the digital version of AC I was prompted to install an Adobe AIR application:

Ugh. AIR isn’t the most robust way to run an app on the Mac. After thumbing through the digital version of AC for a bit I realized reading a magazine sitting at a desk in front of my computer screen is the LAST thing I want to do after editing all day, so I returned to the installation directions page to hopefully find another option. There is an option to download an alternative offline version which is basically just HTML version displayed through a web browser:

I was also able to copy and paste the URL of the the online version of the mag into the iPad web browser and it did load a non-Flash version but it’s still not a very robust way to view the mag. The installation instructions also had a link to a PDF download so I’ll be tossing that into GoodReader for later reading. Call me a snob but a well-formatted iPad magazine is a pleasure to read while a poorly formatted one is not.

I’ll also be ordering the print version since I still enjoy relaxing with a dead-tree version sometimes.

As we move into the holiday shopping season, it’s worth considering the Student Filmmakers deal of $24.95 for a one year subscription. That actually is a few bucks off the $29.95 one year subscription fee at the American Cinematographer ASC store. A few bucks saved is a few bucks saved. The ASC store also has a one or two year gift subscription as well. It’s a a very nice gift for the filmmaker in your life.