29th Street Publishing’s David Jacobs: “In Publishing, Everything Old Is New Again”
Publishing Executive asked industry thought leaders to discuss the big ideas that are changing the magazine industry. We are excited about the future of publishing, and we hope these essays invigorate you with new and illuminating perspectives on that future. View the complete essay collection here.
The obstacles facing publishers today are the same that have been since the magazines was founded in the 1700s. When Richard Steele and Jonathan Swift were building their audience, they were taking advantage of new technologies (the postal service) and new gathering places (coffee houses) and promotion schemes (subscription revenue.) The Tatler's content strategy (not that the term existed then) was optimized for reduced shipping costs (large format newsprint folded twice) and they named different sections of the paper after the coffee houses where they were distributed-the original sponsored content!
Publishing start-ups today need deep expertise in technology, social distribution channels, and diverse monetization strategies. Anyone who says they know the way forward is delusional or lying-no one knows. Even if you had predicted the rise of blogging, for instance, who could have predicted networks like Twitter and Facebook would so quickly eclipse Google as publisher's primary audience referral? And who would have predicted the rise of apps?
Likewise, the apps vs. web debate is now thoroughly decided and the answer is: "all of the above." Beware of anyone selling a distribution solution that is anchored to a technology that comes with an audience. Publishers need to own their audience relationships, and that means reaching them wherever they are: on friendly networks, on their phones via apps and mobile web, and at their desks on the old school web.
David Jacobs is the CEO of 29th Street Publishing.
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