Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles, who has raised eyebrows with some odd cover choices, is doing it again with her December iPad issue that features an animated version of starlet Emma Watson.
While the appearance of Watson moving on the cover might be creepy to some, fans of the Harry Potter franchise that made her famous will recognize it as a takeoff of the moving photos in the Daily Prophet newspaper from the novels.
The issue also includes extras such as footage from the cover shoot and streaming music clips.
It’s also noteworthy that the issue is being offered as a branded app with a subscription option, in answer to a problem that’s vexing magazines. Publishers have been butting heads with Apple over the terms of subscription sales on the iPad. As a result, most are only able to sell single issues, and volumes have for the most part been low.
Marie Claire is launching as a branded app using digital newsstand Zinio. With such branded apps, consumers can find them through the iTunes store without having to type in the word “Zinio.”
National Geographic and Sporting News also are available in this fashion.
The branded apps aren’t a perfect solution for publishers, though. To buy the branded apps, consumers still have to log in to their Zinio account, where first-time shoppers have to take the extra steps of creating an account.
The other rub is that most Zinio-powered titles are flat replicas that don’t take full advantage of the iPad’s interactivity.
Chris Wilkes, vp, audience development and digital editions for Marie Claire parent Hearst Magazines, admitted that the purchase process could limit its appeal. For that reason, he’s still keen on selling subscriptions directly through the App store.
“The biggest hindrance is [that] the customer going into the App Store is used to going into the App Store,” he said. “We’re still very interested in being able to sell subscriptions of app experiences that we’re selling outside the Zinio platform.”