The View From The Tree: iPadded Profits?
With the recent forays of American Media and Reader's Digest in bankruptcy court, and the sight of major vendors like Borders and NewPage seemingly on the courthouse steps, the print magazine business doesn't exactly look robust these days. But the solution isn't $1.99 tablet replications of print publications.
In fact, the most promising publishing-industry apps seem to be those that translate the print brand to a new medium rather than merely replicating the print product. Guitar World's Lick of the Day (see the article on publisher Future U.S.) and Cosmopolitan's Sex Position of the Day come to mind. (In a post on my blog, "App-oplexy: Magazines on the iPad," I tried to explain the difference between the two, but that can't be repeated in a respectable publication like Publishing Executive.)
Some day, publishers will work out a subscription model for the iPad. Some day, tablet versions of publications will develop enough critical mass to create ad networks and draw serious advertiser interest.
But for now, the following internal conversation from a publishing company sums up the situation:
"I love my iPad! We could do some really cool stuff with it."
"Yeah, one of the rocket scientists in IT has some great ideas for apps."
"Can we make any money on them?"
"I don't know."
"Screw it. Let's let the pioneers take the arrows in the back and keep our rocket scientists focused on launching that new Web product. We know we can make money with that."
As for me, I need to stop pontificating and get back to selecting paper for the launch of Angry Birds magazine. It'll be a killer on the newsstand. PE
D. Eadward Tree is the pseudonymous Chief Arborist for Dead Tree Edition (http://deadtreeedition.blogspot.com), recently named by industry commentator Patrick Henry as one of the top 10 blogs for printers and publishers. Mr. Tree is an old print dinosaur who doesn't know his RSS from a hole in the ground, but pay him a few bucks for an article and all of a sudden he thinks he's some kind of new-media pundit.