Once Upon a Web Site
When the Internet went mainstream, many printers shuddered in the threat of paperlessness. But since competition for online supremacy has reached cut-throat proportions, it's not unusual to see dot-coms looking to traditional media for promotional and print publishing ventures.
Such is the case for Travelocity.com, a popular Internet travel site for airfare-watching, planning destinations and even booking reservations via the Web. The dot-com recently announced a partnership with American Airlines Publishing to launch a subscription-based, bi-monthly magazine. While financial details were not disclosed, the partnership signals some significant trends for both the e-commerce and print publishing marketplaces, trends that have some printers already calculating their slices of the cyber pie.
During PrintMedia's MagazineTech 2000 trade show, held last year in New York City, several industry experts anticipated that dot-coms would find new ways to direct traffic online and keep it there. They expected that one of the most prevalent promotions would be in Web-to-print publishing.
According to Kinsey Wilson, editor of Congressional Quarterly(CQ), a Washington D.C.-based watch-dog publication, in order for a Web site to be viable, the site must offer new and different content, or act as an archiving agent. For CQ.com, both approaches were executed when Horsham, PA-based Thomas Technology Solutions (formerly Reed Technology) helped provide the site with an internal face-lift. Despite the online renovation and overall XML-standardization, the success factor, noted Wilson, was CQ's long-time print publication, which acted as the foundation from which online credibility developed. Without it, he claimed, CQ.com, the watch-dog companion, would have had a lot less bite.
Several other recent Web-to-print ventures are also showing signs of progress. A few notable Web-exclusive ventures have gone to paper by publishing branded magazines that some analysts predict introduce more traditional, older customers to the Internet. Among these new purveyors are Yahoo!, eBay and Garden.com. The concept is to tap into a wider customer pool, but the carefully watched flip side is whether or not print publishing is A.) too risky and B.) too expensive for e-tailers.