(E-)Reading the Tea Leaves of Digital Magazines
What we're really facing is a renaissance in business models. From the publishers' point of view, the gadgets are certainly fascinating and grabbing a lot of technology headlines, but at the end of the day a reader is a reader. The real issue for publishers is working out the business models.
I'm excited to be chairing the Digital Magazine Symposium [at the Publishing Business Conference & Expo on March 9] at this pivotal point in magazine history. There's never been this much interest in it, nor has there been this much expectation that this is even a possibility—the idea that you could create robust ad sales in a digital magazine. The technology announcements that started this January at CES have really opened everybody's eyes to the possibilities.
INBOX: Do you see a marketplace for print magazines going forward?
GORDON: No one's really sure how soon the e-readers will come to market. The iPad launched at a $500 price point, but the Kindle and Sony Reader have been below that for some time. I've talked with some e-reader makers who say that in volume, their product could sell for as little as $80. But that's in volume, and no one knows how soon it'll get to those points.
There's so many wild cards that it's very hard to predict, but one thing that's easy to predict is that print ad revenue isn't coming back. Therefore, there will probably be fewer print magazines around. The online world will continue to grow and evolve and find ways to transmit content to people. The magazine industry has taken the approach, "If you can't fight em, join 'em."