Adobe’s War Against Independent Digital Publishers

The creative software giant Adobe pretty much birthed the digital magazine publishing industry with the Adobe DPS, or Digital Publishing Suite, a software package meant to complement their InDesign product.

The combination of their products created an easy way for publishers to create mobile-friendly digital magazines. However over the last few years, Adobe has taken a series of decisions that though didn’t come as a surprise to many, definitely meant indie publishers were expected to look elsewhere for a way to publish their digital magazines.

In today’s deep read, we’re taking a look at what Adobe’s decisions mean for the digital publishing community.

A brief timeline of Adobe DPs’s war against indie publishers

In the fall of 2014, Adobe announced that they were stopping the Adobe DPS Single Edition, regardless of whether you were a Creative Cloud subscriber or wanted to buy it standalone. Even though this was met with mixed response, it was explained away as Adobe wanting to focus on multi-issue publishing.

The following year, Adobe introduced the Digital Publishing Solution, also known as Adobe DPS 2015. They started referring to their original product as DPS Classic, and even though existing users could continue to use it, support soon dried up.

Within a year of this name change, they made a drastic shift from positioning DPS as a mobile publishing solution to bringing it under the umbrella of Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). The AEM is a full blown content management system, with a whole lot of additional bells and whistles that indie publishers simply aren’t looking for.

What exactly is Adobe up to?

Pricing is the easiest way to understand Adobe’s motivation behind pushing AEM. For a useful configuration of number of apps, size of company, size of audience (all pricing plans are based on such customized quotes rather than flat subscriptions), you can expect to spend over $50,000/year.

This is what a competing content management system had to say about AEM adopters:

“It’s no secret that Adobe CQ (another name for AEM) is the most expensive CMS. Adobe said during their recent partner summit that the average CQ deal is $450,000 in license with the total implementation cost of over $2m USD.

Adobe’s focus is squarely on the largest companies who value their entire Marketing Cloud, with experience manager (CQ), analytics, targeting, social. These are often multi-million dollar transactions for Adobe and their implementation partners.”

 

This makes it obvious that Adobe’s target audience is quite specific, namely large enterprises who aren’t necessarily looking to generate revenues from their mobile content. Who are these people then?

Companies that require centralized information dissemination systems. For organizations with tens of thousands of employees spread all over the world, instant information sharing saves hundreds of hours when onboarding, training, sharing company news, etc.

This is obviously quite different from the traditional magazine publishing industry, which is what AEM’s predecessor Adobe DPS targeted. The Digital Publishing Suite provided an excellent solution for existing print publishers to turn their content into responsive digital magazines.

Assessing the true size of the digital publishing market

Back when tables launched (nearly 6 years ago), they were pitted to be the future of mobile content. There was a huge interest from the publishing industry in repurposing their library of content for these new channels of distribution, with the added ability to include interactivity (hyperlinks, audio, video, etc.).

What followed was a dismal rate of growth in both tablet and digital magazine adoption. It turned out that the technology that the publishing pundits had placed their bets on was not so hot after all.

In retrospect, a lot of it can be explained away as a result of changing expectations. Readers seemed less interested in highly curated publications like magazines, with significant periods of time between serialized editions. People had gotten used to a constantly refreshing feed of content, with the effect of people (arguably) getting addicted to quantity rather than quality.

The way forward for digital magazine publishers

While there are important lessons to be learned from the lukewarm response to digital magazines, it is by no means the end of the road for digital magazine publishers. On the contrary, we should expect a period of high innovation, with key trends being established in how people share and receive content.

At a more immediate level, digital magazine publishers still require a solid solution for their needs. Adobe has made it clear that the revenue involved in this market is not worth their time. However, there still exists a significantly sized market of readers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists who want access to print magazine quality curation on mobile.

Becoming a better digital publisher

Publishers can make fatal mistakes as a result of not completely understanding the current state of technology. We covered at length why the trend of PDF magazines are a death blow to the industry. To summarize in a sentence – publishing non-reflowable (not responsive to screen size) magazines in a predominantly mobile market is suicide.

The obvious thing to do is to fully exploit all the possibilities. If you invest in creating truly interactive digital magazines, then you have a new marketing channel, a new source of revenue, and an extremely effective brand-building mechanism.

Choosing the right DPS alternative

There are a few platforms offering users the ability to create HTML-based digital magazines. They differ in their pricing and abilities, with some allowing you to publish native Android and iOS apps, while some limiting you to web apps. We compared some of the best digital magazine publishing platforms in this blog post.

The ability to create responsive content is very important, as is the possibility of monetizing your issues, CRM and marketing analytics, affordable pricing, and many more factors. Choosing the right digital publishing platform is an important step for you as a publisher, and we recommend spending some time assessing your own needs.

With plans starting at $99/month, we at MagLoft offer one of the most competitively priced and feature packed digital publishing solution. You get completely branded native Android, iOS and web apps, mobile-friendly responsive content, the ability to design from scratch with the TypeLoft editor.

Beyond these main features, we offer highly advanced functionalities such as targeted push notifications, user analytics, manual subscriber addition, and much much more. And the most obvious “feature” goes without saying: our customer support. We give every customer individual attention, taking care of all technical aspects of publishing so that they can focus on the content.

For a complete look at MagLoft’s capabilities as a legitimate DPS replacement, visit our Features page.