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More developers getting on the iPad publish-it-yourself bandwagon

As the iPad shapes up to become an impressive force in publishing, we're seeing more developers get interested in providing solutions for small businesses, schools and organizations that just want to get a magazine out with a minimum of fuss. I looked at one system last month, and more are on the way.

One new entrant is the Alligator Digital Magazine publishing system. The Los Angeles-based company provides an HTML 5 web-based tool that allows people to send content to a template-based content management system. The magazine supports zooming, web links, embedded video, photo albums and animations. Live updates can be done at any time. A preview app allows customers to test the magazine, and then it is published to the iTunes store. Multiple issues can be managed, and full text search is supported. If customers charge for the magazine, 30 percent of revenue has to be shared with Apple per App Store rules. Of course, your publication won't appear until it is approved by Apple.

Pricing varies depending upon your online storage requirements and the number of downloads your magazine gets. Fees start at US$300 for up to 500 downloads a month. Support, if needed, is $100 an hour. Because Alligator serves as the content creator, not the publisher, you'll need your own developer account, which is $99 per year.

I looked at some magazines that have been published with the system, and they are eye-catching and full featured. There is a wide variety of templates that would-be publishers can use, so the magazines don't look like your worst PowerPoint nightmares. You can check out a sample here. Magazines work on the iPhone and iPod touch as well. In a couple of places some of the fonts looked a bit ragged, but other than that, the layouts and animations looked quite good.

We're sure to see more options for people who want to get their content out digitally. If you've seen some compelling solutions be sure to share them with us, and any experiences you've had, good or bad.

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