Amazon Kindle Newsstand Versus Zinio on iPad

I took the plunge recently and bought a new iPad! One of the first things I looked into was Zinio, based on the exuberant reviews of the other Gear Diary editors. Then I realized I hardly read magazines.

So while I peeked at a few prices and poked around, I didn’t really give digital magazines much thought. Today I was doing my usual Amazon Kindle browsing to find some new reading materials, and I stumbled on the price for “Running Times”, one of the magazines I had considered on Zinio. The price was $20/year on Zinio, but only $0.83 an issue on Amazon (or $9.96 per year). That’s a huge difference, and it pushed a subscription from “I’d enjoy it but not enough to pay that much” to “Oh, wow, at that price it’s dumb not to subscribe!” But is there an app advantage to Zinio? I downloaded an issue of “Running Times” to both, so read on to find out which I preferred!

Both apps look great on the iPad’s screen, but I found the Kindle app rendered a bit more quickly. Zinio took an extra few seconds for the text to sharpen, while the Kindle was good to go right from the page flip. Without zooming or choosing a text only mode; I preferred the Kindle app on first appearance.

(Amazon Kindle on left, Zinio on right)

However, with ads and pictures, some of the text can be pretty tiny. Zinio and Amazon each have text only options, and Zinio’s was definitely clearer and easier to find. It popped up as a fairly self-explanatory “text” option, and boom, a nice block of writing to read instead of tiny fonts. It actually took me a second to find Amazon’s option (it was a little symbol box in the upper right corner), but it accomplishes the same task. Both were reasonably quick, and I would call this feature a draw.

 (Amazon Kindle on left, Zinio on right)

Zinio and Amazon also offer small thumbnails of the contents for easy scrolling, but Amazon’s were significantly larger. This makes it a bit easier to figure out whether I wanted to flip to a certain page, and previews the contents before changing my place in the magazine. Zinio’s wasn’t bad, but Amazon’s was better.

This isn’t a full, in-depth comparison, because my preference was clear: I preferred the Amazon Newsstand choice in the Kindle app over Zinio. Not only was the price right, but the user interface and features felt more natural for me. Since I don’t read a great deal of magazines, it makes more sense to keep any magazine purchases in my existing ebook library than branching out to another app just for one or two titles. However, from my limited browsing it definitely appears that Zinio has more options, and they offer more platforms than Amazon. My “Running Times” subscription only works on a Kindle Fire, an iPad, or an iPhone. Zinio is on almost every major electronic device. So while I preferred Amazon for my needs, Zinio is still a great choice for a true magazine junky.

The one thing that puzzles me is the price discrepancy. I don’t know if Amazon just has extreme pricing latitude, or if Zinio needs to charge more to offset the 30% to Apple, but it’s definitely eyebrow-raising, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a major factor for me.

Have you seen any crazy differences in magazine pricing between retailers? Are you a fan of Zinio, B&N or Amazon for your periodicals? Share your favorite in the comments!


Categories: eBooks

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2 replies

  1. It all depends on the magazine too. Men’s Journal – $23.88 on Amazon and only $11.88 on Zinio.