I have never been a fan of the Newsstand, for many of the reasons that Marko has published here, it purposefully hides content, the same as iBooks does, but the difference between the services is that the concept of a book is relatively static (I’ve yet to have a digital book magically update with a 2nd edition).
Publications within Newsstand are intended to have a frequency of content updates, whether that is daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly… it really doesn’t matter. One way or another the concept is a frequent publishing schedule that is tied to the world it’s skeuomorphic design was trying to protect.
The content is what was wrong to start with. Long before Apple stretched it’s weedy finger out to the publishing world with its claims of being able to save a flailing industry millions of us worldwide were reading magazines on digital devices. We stole them, borrowed them, leased them, call it what you will but for the last 10 years at least I have been reading comic books and magazines distributed across the net with basic readers. They were what I expected them to be, page scans of a physical relic and put into that context, I was happy; I still am. Most of the books I purchase are from the author’s site DRM free in whatever format suits me but primarily as a PDF.
The failure of Newsstand is that it failed to push publishers to think about the context of what they were doing. You rarely hear a publisher say they want to get onto Newsstand to be able to share their work with an audience they couldn’t get to before in say Kuala Lumpur. It’s so that they can create another ‘channel’, we need another ‘revenue stream’, we need to do this because people aren’t going into Smiths anymore.
Newsstand is a transitional platform. It’s the loading screen for whatever game comes next and the reason everyone is struggling is because nobody has really thought, and really thought about, not just procrastinating that the web itself is a distribution platform for content so why aren’t you using it how it was intended. I mean nobody has thought about what the next step is with replacing physical with digital products in the way we have with audio and video.
I don’t have any answers, but there is a glaring difference between audio and video content – I don’t have to engage with either of them to enjoy them in the way I do if I read something.