How to Get Paid for your Digital Publications without Breaking the Bank

Justin | design,HTML5,InDesign | Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

I recently received an email containing the following questions:

Your product [in5] looks amaaazing!

One issue that has always hassled me is the deployment, monetization and DRM [Digital Rights Management] side of things. Do you have any solutions like this for clients selling their creations?

…Aside from the vastly expensive DPS hosting and app store – there don’t seem to be any options available for the small guy to monetize a digital document…?

These are good questions that I believe are of interest to many people. There are several affordable ways to monetize your content and provide some protection to your content at the same time. I’ve put together a list of the best options below (and more are sure to pop up).

1. Host Content Behind a Paid Firewall

Hosting the web content produced by in5 behind a paid firewall (i.e. users pay a membership fee which gives them access to a private part of a website) is a simple way to collect revenue and can provide some basic DRM. Only paid members would have access to the site (via username and password) and content would remain on the server.

Taking the output into app form can also provide revenue (through an app store) and DRM (since apps can be difficult to distribute outside of a store). The options that follow all involve creating an app(s).

Amazon HTML52. Submit Directly to Amazon

You can submit in5 content directly to Amazon. Amazon will actually do the packaging for you! The app is then available to Kindle Fire and several Android devices through the Amazon AppStore. A developer account and app submission are both free. Doesn’t get more affordable than that. (demo video)

Baker Framework3. Create an App Using the Baker Framework*

You can also export to the Baker Framework using in5, and then package as a app for iPhone or iPad. The Baker Framework is an open source library (completely free) for Xcode (the Apple developer code editor, which is free, but requires a Mac) that can produce a standalone app or issues for Apple Newsstand. An Apple Developer license is $99/year (and up) and if you charge for your app (or Newsstand issues), I believe Apple will take a percentage. (demo video)

PhoneGap4. Package as an App using PhoneGap*

You can also package in5 output as an app for multiple devices using PhoneGap. The core of PhoneGap is based on a free, open-source product and there is also a nice web service called PhoneGap Build. Depending on your technical comfort, the cost of this option will vary somewhat. The more you can do yourself, the cheaper this option is. Even if you prefer to use the web service (the least technical option) you can produce a single app for free and the next plan up starts at $9.99/month.

liquid-state-2005. Coming Soon: Package as an App using Liquid State*

Currently in beta, Liquid State is a web service that is designed to import several types of content, including content produced by in5. Liquid State can then create an app (or “issues”) for multiple devices. Liquid State will offer single app pricing and monthly subscriptions, both of which will be more affordable than the current Adobe DPS pricing. There’s also the possibility that there will be mutual discounts available to in5 and Liquid State customers. If you’re a current in5 user and you’d like to be part of the Liquid State beta you can contact the co-founder, Philip Andrews, directly (philip AT liquid-state DOT com).

*There are some costs associated with submitting to the app stores (I believe is the most costly is Apple’s at around $99/year for a single developer) which are separate from the product or service that does the “packaging” for you.


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