This story has been updated with further information from Quark. 

As publishers struggle to create a revenue stream from Digital Editions Quark has reduced the price InDesign users have to pay to use tablet publishing tool App Studio. 

Quark has announced that it has lowered the price of App Studio, specifically for its Adobe InDesign users. Prices now start at £69.99 a month or a one off single-issue app can now be created for £139.95 per app. The pricing plans can be seen here.

When we reviewed the App Studio tool back in December, App Studio pricing for those using QuarkXPress started at £139.95 for a single edition app or £69.95 per month for a multi-issue publication, so it appears to have bought the pricing into line with Quark users of the software. The single issue edition of the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite is free to Adobe's Creative Cloud users.

Update: Quark has confirmed to us that previously InDesign was only supported in its Multi-Issue Premium Plan for £349.95 per month. The company has now allowed InDesign support with its Multi-Issue Pro plan, bringing the cost for InDesign users into line with the price for QuarkXPress users. 

Designers using App Studio can use the layout tools they already know to create interactive content for tablet and smartphones without having to code.

Update: Quark has clarified the differences between its own offering and that of Adobe. The clarification is below. 

"The new plans give small businesses an affordable way to leverage HTML5 to create the type of engaging apps that today’s consumers have come to expect," claims Quark. 

Quark went on to emphasise the difference between Quark and Adobe's offerings. The company explained that App Studio creates second generation apps that are HTML5 based rather than using PDFs with static images and overlays. "This means richer, real -time interactivity, smaller file sizes, content is not locked in a proprietary file format and the many other benefits of HTML5," explained Quark's Vice President of Marketing at Quark, Gavin Drake.

"So while its fair to compare Adobe DPS as a digital publishing solution, in our view customers are getting a superior, more engaging app experience with App Studio apps," Drake added. 

Drake also clarified that while Adobe's Creative Cloud subscribers get the opportuntiy to create a single edition app, "Most of the activity and interest tends to be in Multi-issue apps, which start at £282 per month for Adobe DPS (not included with Creative Cloud) and include only 1/4 of the number of issue downloads compared to the £69.95 App Studio Multi-Issue Pro plan." 

"So you're looking at an additional £1,700 purchase of issue downloads on top of the £282 per month for Adobe DPS to just get to the equivalent App Studio package," he added. 

"I don't believe there is a comparable digital publishing solution for InDesign that now comes even close to the App Studio Multi-Issue Pro plan and if you want Single Edition apps with the the HTML5 advantages and without having to commit to Creative Cloud indefinitely, then App Studio is a great no commitment option for those too (and works with CS5, CS5.5 and CS6 so customers can continue with their current versions)," Drake concluded.

The market for Digital Editions

Magazine sales are falling and unfortunately digital editions are not yet compensating for those losses.

The Alliance for Audited Media (formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations) reported in August that digital replica editions (which replicate most of a print magazine’s editorial and advertising content, and make up the vast majority of magazines’ digital versions) made up just 1.7 percent of overall circulation, although this figure is up from 1% in 2011, reports PaidContent.

A WSJ story states that big magazine publishers think digital won’t hit 10 percent of circulation until 2015.

According to the PaidContent report, readers are downloading more digital editions - half of the audited titles (258) reported that over 5.4 million digital replica editions had been sold in the first half of 2012. In 2011 year, 232 magazines had reported two million digital replica sales.

In addition, research suggests that in the United States tablet publications are the second highest-grossing category of apps on iOS.

There is also a growing market of people with iPads and tablets, and while people are often drawn to the web, it is often the case that the best time to read on a tablet is when commuting and there are times, especially in London when there is no connection to the web. And of course when there is bandwidth costs money. It's for this market that the digital edition is particularly attractive.

Issues for issues

One of the issues faced by publishers has been the high cost of producing a digital version of their magazine, and the lowered price of Quark's offering likely reflects this situation.

Another issue is the fact that the web often offers a better experience than a digital edition. Plus websites are free.

And perhaps the key issue for publishers is that the ad revenue from digital editions hasn't yet materialised.

There is however promise in digital edition advertising, reports Editor and Publisher. "Those who read digital magazines are twice as likely to use more time and buy twice as much," according to Mik Strøyberg of Issuu.

"With advertising display ads, they only click for 30 seconds and leave, but if they come to a magazine or a catalog, they will spend 14 to 15 minutes there," he claimed.

The problem is that the creative teams producting advertising are not yet familiar with creating ads for digital editions, suggests a report on PubExec.

David Steinhardt, president and CEO of IDEAlliance, told PubExec: "Perhaps the most telling symptom of the chaos we are experiencing across the tablet advertising supply chain is the fact that we don’t even have a standard nomenclature to describe the specifications for placing an advertisement in a tablet magazine edition. Without a tablet advertising lingua franca that agencies and publishers both use to clearly communicate requirements, ad hoc efficiencies are the best we can ever accomplish."

The future

In this era of ad revenue declines, it is more important than ever for publishers to look to digital magazines as a way to gain revenue. In a Wall Street Journal article noted by PaidContent, Hearst president David Carey said that publishers need to "become more leveraged toward consumer revenue and a little less dependent on advertising."