I'm a student in charge of my university's magazine, and I'm interested in finding a user and budget friendly solution to distributing a tablet version on Apple's Newsstand.

I'm not the best programmer in the world, but I can follow a tutorial - is there a simple framework that I'd be able to train people how to use? I've noticed some apps are basically glorified PDF viewers with no frills. That would be good enough for us - we're not looking to do anything special, we're just looking to do something.

I have an iOS developer account, and we might be able to invest in some software - but paying an outside company a subscription to do it for us would be a little harder to justify, especially if it's too expensive, because all of our budget decisions go through a bureaucratic meat grinder.

For reference - we do pretty much everything on InDesign. Unfortunately, we can't fit Creative Cloud Professional memberships in the budget (not even one).

To boil it down: are there any solutions out there that are friendly to english and journalism majors? Or are there any companies who offer educational discounts to organisations like ours who might be able to help?

  • Is there some aspect of newsstand you want or just the "cachet" of being on an Apple App Store? Web publishing is by far the easiest low budget solution.
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 1:54
  • No, it's not just being on the app store - that's pretty much meaningless unless somebody's looking for you, anyway - and we're already engaged in web publishing. It's more for the learning experience and the end user who isn't satisfied with print; a lot of other free magazines are on newsstand, and as a team we'd like to learn the sort of skills required to put a publication there if it's possible. Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite does basically everything without any code, of course, but we're shopping for alternatives as the student deal doesn't offer that functionality.
    – mikeocd
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 1:34
  • Are you sure about all those "free" magazines? The basic apps are always free, but to actually read an issue you normally have to pay for it. Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 4:23
  • @TomGewecke Yes - obviously things like Wired and The New Yorker and what have you just offer free apps that contain paid issues, but I have newsstand subscriptions to DIY Magazine, Vice Magazine, The Metro and The Daily Mirror which are all entirely free. There are a fair few, and while they're not all of the same standard of their paid counterparts, they do exist.
    – mikeocd
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 18:19

2 Answers 2


Newsstand requires building an actual iOS application, albeit a simple one. I'm not sure an English major could manage that (he says, who was once a professional computer programmer and English major).

You might be better to consider iBooks. Check out https://developer.apple.com/ibooks/

You can download iBooks Author for free in the Mac App store to build extremely nice iBooks and they can then be put into the bookstore if you have a developer account. You might then email all your subscribers with a link to grab the new issue. iBooks Author is almost as much fun to use a InDesign and certainly more fun than Pages.

If you are convinced to go the Newsstand route then I suggest you find an iOS programmer who can assist you. You will need a good understanding of the iOS WebKit framework (as the most likey way to handle your content), the Newsstand framework and the push framework at an absolute minimum. Once you have the app coded and running then the difficulty of creating an issue depends on exactly how you decide to handle it in your app. The app gets passed the issue as a bundle and how it deals with it is entirely up to your app.

  • iBooks Author is free and would only cost you time and perhaps an inexpensive used Mac if you don't already have one. Good solution proposal.
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 1:24
  • Thank you for the iBooks suggestion! It's certainly a potential option, but right now, it's not quite what we're looking to do -- we're looking at Newsstand as a learning experience. Could you possibly elaborate on your initial point, please? I'm a journalism major, and they don't tend to be particularly code literate, but I've taken programming classes before - XCode isn't at all alien to me. If it's a "simple" app (even an intermediate one), we could potentially work with that providing keeping it updated was something simple enough to teach others.
    – mikeocd
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 1:46

Have you considered using Baker? It's an opensource Newsstand app framework, and has a lot of features. We've created a number of magazine apps on the App Store, from paid solutions (for Vogue, using Magplus) to free using Baker.

Baker takes a bit more time than Magplus, but it is free. It uses HTML, so it may not fit your workflow. However, you can get a plugin, In5, which saves the output of InDesign to the Baker format. The plugin is paid, but i believe they have education discounts.

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