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High-Tech How-To: Reflections on an Evolving Industry

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Today marks the launch of Martha Stewart Living: Boundless Beauty, our company's first digital magazine, featuring all original content for the iPad. It's an exciting moment for us that fittingly coincides with the 20th anniversary of Martha Stewart Living. A how-to magazine celebrating everyday living, Living was the first magazine of its kind and, as such, it represented a shift in the magazine industry and in how readers engage with creative content. Now digital magazines are revolutionizing the magazine experience.

Our digital issue, for example, offers all the inspiring ideas, step-by-step instruction and magnificent photography that are the hallmarks of our brand. But thanks to innovative new technology, readers are able to swipe, tap, touch, and toggle their way through a spectrum of interactive experiences. It begins on our animated cover, a 'Madylone' peony that blooms right before your eyes (a single flower photographed 180 times over 10 hours), but also includes scrolling recipes, slide shows, videos, audio, panoramas, and access to my Twitter feed.

Readers can even watch a video of a decorating contest and vote on their favorite design style.
Throughout the history of magazines, stories have been shaped by the personalities, vision, and philosophy of the editors, writers, photographers, and illustrators working behind the scenes. Now we have even more tools at our disposal, tools that are transforming the art of storytelling. Editors and writers can create content not just with words and images but with video and audio and links to websites, too. Photographers can shoot and share moving images as well as stills, creating something more active and cinematic.

The stories for our digital issue, which is available for $3.99 on the App Store (a dollar less than Living's newsstand price), were conceived and developed to take full advantage of the new interactive technology.

A story about a salmon fishing expedition along Alaska's Copper River provides the in-depth information readers expect from us. But it also includes video, audio and a panoramic photograph of a glacier that spans nearly seven screens, capturing some of the breadth and scope of this extraordinary natural wonder.

Readers can also take a 180-degree tour of my peony garden, and then touch each peony to learn its proper name, how much sun it needs and how tall it will grow. It even links to a nursery, so the plants can be purchased in a seamless experience.

The iPad's sensitivity to touch preserves the intimacy of the magazine-reading experience. It also puts the reader in control. You are the navigator. Because the content is non-linear, interesting connections become possible and immediate. You can tap a picture of a mouth-watering fruit tart and go straight to the recipe. In our decorating glossary, you can touch a swatch to learn more about it -- the color, who created the fabric, where you can find it online and how it was used in the room. You can venture as deep into the experience as you like.

My enthusiasm for this new format does not diminish my passion for and dedication to print. I am enormously proud of our print editions of Living, Everyday Food, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Whole Living, and I firmly believe in their value. They are also more accessible, as the market for tablet devices is still in its infancy. But digital technology has enormous potential. It brings a new dimension to our storytelling, making the experience more immersive than ever. It's exciting to think about where it will take us. As I often tell my colleagues, "When you're through changing, you're through."

Martha Stewart is the founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.