National Geographic Magazine for iPad: Great Subscription Price. But, Why Buy Scanned Pages from The Paper Magazine?

Quick show of hands: How many of you consider National Geographic Magazine to be one of the, if not “the”, greatest and most interesting magazines published? It was founded in 1888 (122 years old) and is still something I read in paper form. So, I was extremely excited to see its iPad app emerge this week. Better yet, it is free (or is it?).

National Geographic Magazine 1.0 (iTunes App Store)

The app downloads its contents the first time you use it. But, it does not download an entire issue. What I received (downloaded) was the cover (dated September 2010) and pages 64 through 85. These pages are for an article titled “Sands of Time” about Fraser Island (southern coast of Queensland, Australia). Fair enough, this “free” content. But, take a close look at the amazing photographs. Do you see a creaseline in the middle of the double page photos? Yes, these appear to scanned from the actual paper copy of the magazine. It does not use the original digital (presumably) photographs.

So, how do I get the rest of the National Geographic issue? You need to create an account with Zinio (which has their own iPad app for purchasing subscriptions for a relatively large number of magazines). If the iPad subscription is for what Zinio calls “National Geographic Interactive” on their website, then the subscription price of $15 per year (US & Canada only) is quite reasonable. In fact, it is the most reasonable iPad magazine subscription price I’ve seen so far.

Am I going to subscribe to National Geographic Magazine on my iPad? No, I will not until it is something more than scanned copies of the paper magazine. I’d rather read text and admire the amazing photos on high quality glossy paper.