With the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones, including the iPad and iPhone, digital publishing has become an increasingly important vehicle for the publishing industry. Digital publishing is constantly developing, an example being the introduction of Apple's subscription model, a new subscription service which is available to content based apps on the App Store, the same service recently launched by Apple and News Corp's for "The Daily". Publishers are looking to increase their reader revenue, and hope that digital publishing will give them a new channel to do so.

Aquafadas, the company that developed PulpMotion and BannerZest, will be launching an end-to-end publishing solution dedicated to digital publishing on smartphones and tablets on 17 March. Aquafadas's aim is to make digital publishing easier to accomplish. The Aquafadas Digital Publishing Platform will enable designers to create digital content using plugins for QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign. Aquafadas says that the solution will make it easy to publish digitally to multiple devices.

Claudia Zimmer is Aquafadas' President and founded the company with Matthieu Kopp, the research and development director, in 2006, starting with video editing software. Aquafadas then went on to become Europe's leading solution provider for the creation and distribution of digital comic books, which can be consumed on computers, smartphones and now tablets. We spoke to Claudia Zimmer, for an insight into their newest development.

Challenging Times

Zimmer outlined what she feels are the main challenges for publishers at present: "Publishers and enterprises across industries must solve a new, but core business problem: How can they publish interactive content to multiple digital devices simultaneously to print and web publishing, without increasing the cost and staff? Designers, not programmers need to create digital publications while they create print and web publications. Second, digital publishing must be automated in order to be cost effective. And third, the distribution problem for digital publications must be solved"

It is not just magazine publishers that Aquafadas is addressing with its solution: "Our platform supports freelance designers just as well as book, magazine, and newspaper publishers, as well as communication agencies and companies for their marketing materials, catalogues and documentation", said Zimmer.

Key to Aquafadas' solution is that designers and marketing departments should be able to use the tool, rather than publishing houses having to employ expensive developers: "Our solution can be used without writing a single line of code to create a fully interactive, digital publication", explained Zimmer.

Also key is being able to easily manage the distribution of digital titles on a subscription basis: "The platform also includes a service to easily generate apps through ready-to-use templates" added Zimmer, perfect for publishers wishing to create an app of their title on a month-by-month, or week-by-week basis.

"We also offer a distribution portal, which enables anyone to track sales, update apps with new content, and much more. Our platform guides our clients through every step of their digital publishing projects, making it very easy and affordable." explained Zimmer.

Automated Process

Aquafadas' solution aims to make it easy to take existing magazine content and convert it into a digital format. "Our tools also offer a wide range of options to quickly adapt existing documents designed for print, and reuse them at high quality for digital publishing" said Zimmer. "Publishers can use existing publications, which were once created for print, and enhance those with videos, slideshows, image galleries, resizable text, and can quickly produce a large number of digital titles without reinventing everything" Zimmer added.

With many publishers having developed their own apps, will Aquafadas' solution undo their hard work? Not according to Zimmer: "We also offer software components that enable our customers to integrate the digital content created with our solution with their existing app. It also means that system integrator and advertising agencies are able to use our technology for developing custom solutions for their customers."

New Devices

With so many new tablet devices on the market will publishers need to make multiple versions of their digital editions? Aquadafadas plans to be future proof: "We will continue to adjust our digital output format and reader technology to new devices, so our customers don't have to," said Zimmer.

"We already enable publishing to multiple devices and formats: iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and smartphones. Instead of investing in new apps and reader technology whenever new devices are introduced, our customers simply can update their apps and content," Zimmer added.

Payment Structure

Aquadafas' platform will be accessible for free, the company will only charge customers when they publish their titles. "The plug-ins for InDesign and QuarkXPress are free" explained Zimmer. "Our customers can play with, create and test digital publications as much as they want, using our platform.

Our business model is that our customers only pay when they actually publish. Our pricing model is simple: You pay for a single publication, such as a book, or a single magazine issue. However, for everyone who publishes frequently, we offer publishing packages that cover for instance all issues for a whole year. We don't sell apps, and we don't ask for a share of our customer's revenues. Our platform is easy to implement with no upfront investment" explained Zimmer. "We want to make digital publishing easy and accessible for everyone." Zimmer added.

Aquafadas' new platform will be launched on 17 March, 2011, at the Paris Book Fair and at a worldwide web event. The company claimed that it will have details on the pricing structure for the sale of digital publications at this event.