Joomag, a startup founded in 2009 that provides digital publishing services for publishers looking to create online magazines, recently crossed the 10,000 publisher mark in terms of content partners. That’s a big milestone for the company, which was one of the earliest in this space, predating the rush to provide tools for digital book and magazine publication ushered in by the introduction of the iPad.
Now, there are multiple companies vying for the same dollars as print publishers and other new entrants look to make the move to digital. Zinio was another early player, and one that’s emerged as a leader on the iPad, where it provides one-stop shopping for a variety of different titles from prominent publishers. And Apple’s own Newsstand looks to consolidate titles direct from publishers in order to provide Apple with a greater piece of the revenue pie through in-app subscriptions.
Joomag founder and CEO Ruben Vardanyan believes that what it offers differs from others out there, for one because it focuses on the web first, but also because it provides a simple publishing platform that enables even the most modest of publishers to turn their product digital and get it in front of a new potential audience.
“The main idea behind Joomag is that everyone can easily create their own publication, whether they have it existing in PDF or some other format or not,” he said. “At this moment, the majority of our publishers are small businesses, but we also have a lot of individuals, including students collaborating with universities like Hawaii State and Ohio State. There’s also a lot of interest from the Spanish community, including from universities in Colombia and Spain.”
The use case makes sense; creating a custom courseware kit or small run print publication for use in an academic setting can be costly when going through traditional channels, but Joomag provides its basic service for free, along with premium plans starting at $14.95 per month that include additional features like iPad compatibility.
Vardanyan believes that what Joomag provides that others don’t is a combination of ease of publishing tools, which he says lets anyone create a quality product with interactive media elements, as well as a focus on simplicity. While others tout bells and whistles and a digital-first approach, Joomag can get anyone up and running quickly, delivering content to readers without any kind of onboarding process or learning curve, making it perfect for small shops who don’t have the time or budget to commit to extensive publication digitization strategies.
Issuu is likely Joomag’s primary competitor for now, but Vardanyan thinks that his company’s strategy of providing not only PDF conversion but full publishing tools and advanced analytics about readership set it up as a better business proposition, especially for smaller publishers who otherwise wouldn’t be gathering or analyzing the kind of data Joomag provides from subscribers.
Joomag’s price tag of free is a key selling point, but to move forward putting more attention and effort into the tablet side of things seems like the best option, especially with Windows 8 tablets and rumors of a smaller iPad on the horizon.