BoSacks: The Profit Prophet: Pulp Fiction
A debate has resurfaced in the publishing blogosphere in the last few months, a conversation that I believe is very important. At the same time, it is a situation that will take care of itself as the totally obvious becomes clearly evident to everyone left standing.
The antagonist that brought about the necessity for this debate is the advent of the now very popular iPad, and with it the new magazine applications that are increasingly available and seemingly very successful. There are many title-specific apps such as Popular Science, Wired, Sports Illustrated and, of course, the resourceful Zinio bullpen of thousands of iPad-ready titles.
But the new wrinkle is that some pundits have now suggested that these successful apps are not actually magazines at all. Dr. Samir Husni declared in his blog a few weeks ago that if it's not printed on paper, it's not a magazine.
I have countered such logic with a precise definition of a magazine, broadcast in this publication some four or five years ago and actually anticipating this very debate. Simply stated and without the full details, my friends and fellow analysts at mediaIDEAS suggest that a magazine must have the following criteria: It must be paginated, edited, designed, periodic, permanent and date stamped. It is my opinion that these simple rules allow for us as an industry to move easily from where we were to where we absolutely must go. My definition prepares us for the eventual day when a publisher's digital revenue surpasses the printed revenue stream without in any way damaging either our integrity or honorable legacy. We can have everything that we were, and still look proudly and boldly into a new and profitable future.
I feel that maintaining the requirement, as some have suggested, that "it ain't a magazine if it ain't on paper" will only doom us to be an afterthought in the assuredly strong digital future now way beyond our doorstep.