The recent launch by Apple of an iPhone and iPad app for the Doctor Who Magazine is sure to be welcomed by fans of the 50 year old television programme, particularly those outside of the United Kingdom. Sales of the print version of the 34 year old publication hit an all time high in the second half of 2013. The Audit Bureau of Circulations (UK) certified DWM’s circulation at 36,151, an increase of 26% over the previous twelve months. This figure is all the more exceptional when compared to the overall consumer magazine market in the UK which dropped 6.3% during the same period. The press release on this outstanding achievement can be read here.
Whilst these increasing circulations figures evidence an expanding market for Doctor Who in the UK, fans outside of Britain have long experienced difficulties in obtaining the magazine in an efficient and cost effective manner. In Australia, for example, DWM is not stocked in newsagencies and can only be purchased by costly (and sometimes dodgy) annual subscriptions or as a “one-off” from a multitude of eBay sellers. The current edition, number 470, will set an Australian fan back at least $28.00 and take more than a fortnight to arrive from the UK. Special editions are even more expensive. The 50th Anniversary edition (467) cost me $45.00!
Imagine my delight when I discovered the Apple DWM app. Currently available for sale are all issues from February 2013 (456) to date, together with Special Editions 34, 35 and 36 which feature the missing episodes of the First and Second Doctors. Issues 466 to 470 are currently retailing for $6.49; issues 456 to 465 for $4.49, and Special Editions 34, 35 and 36 for $8.49. A 12 month subscription is available for less than $45.00.
The Apple DWM app is a direct scan from the print version and has not been formatted specifically for iPhones and iPads. One page is presented per screen, or two pages if the device is rotated 90 degrees. On a standard iPad Air this generally permits the text to be read, although use of the zoom function conveniently increases text size for less eye strain. The comic script reproduces well and can in most instances be read without zooming. Reading DWM on an iPhone 5 is impossible without repetitive zooming and scrolling. Except for the Contents page and cover the app is not interactive so completing the crossword online is impossible. Automatically accessing articles from the Contents page and cover is a nice addition. A useful help screen provides instructions for navigating the digital edition. Let’s hope that a fully interactive tablet specific app is soon introduced, together with an Android version for non-Apple users.
©Vivien Fleming, 2014.