June 2008 Issue


Bo Sacks: The Profit ProphetThe Real Viability of Digital Editions

I’ve been inundated lately with e-mail requests about the viability of digital magazine editions. The letter that put me over the top was from an old and dear acquaintance, who is a senior production director, that said, “Digital editions of magazines will never get traction with the magazine-reading public.” This is a ridiculous attitude. And if it is yours, too, bury it now with other ridiculous ideas like the world is flat and man will never fly. Perhaps Jeff Gomez, author of the book “Print Is Dead,” put it best when he wrote: “To expect future generations to be satisfied with printed books is

Digital Editions’ Growth Spurt

This spring, Barnes & Noble announced that it would offer both print publications and digital editions of more than 1,000 magazine titles to visitors of BN.com. The e-editions will be fulfilled by Barnes & Noble partner Zinio. Indeed, it’s just one more indication that, despite some debate on their future, digital editions are becoming a viable alternative to print for a growing number of readers. Cambridge, Mass.-based The Gilbane Group recently published a study, “Digital Magazine and Newspaper Editions: Growth, Trends, and Best Practices,” showing that the number of business-to-business publications offering digital editions increased by more than 300 percent in a two-year span


RSS Use on the Rise The number of RSS users jumped 153% between June 2007 and March 2008. Source: Universal McCann More Publishers Using Digital Magazines The total number of BPA members reporting that they offer digital copies increased 4.7% to 224 in December 2007—compared to 214 in December 2006. Source: BPA Worldwide Digital Magazine Readers Satisfied, Engaged 89% of digital magazine readers are “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their digital editions. 90% of digital magazine readers read their digital editions the week they receive them. 61% of digital magazine readers have read three or four of the last four issues of their digital

Master Manufacturer: The Death of an Editor?

There have been a lot of funerals for printed magazines lately, but I keep waiting for a eulogy that describes what exactly is being buried. There are three elements that are showing signs of mortality: the physical printed magazine, the role of editor as mediator, and the core magazine business model. The business model will have to wait for a future column, but now let’s look at the prognosis for the first two. On which grave should we leave the flowers? The Physical Object For the reading experience itself, no one prefers a screen to a magazine. What pulls us away from a printed

Publishing @ 50+

The AARP, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for Americans ages 50 and older, is itself turning 50 this year, and the timing could not be better. A host of anniversary events, culminating with the “Life@50+” national event in September in Washington, D.C. (where AARP is based), will bolster the organization’s already-high profile, as millions of baby boomers add to the ranks of the largest retirement-age cohort in history. It may seem to the casual observer that the AARP—along with its flagship publication, AARP The Magazine—is the inevitable beneficiary of a demographic tide. Such an assumption ignores the fact that these same boomers, many of

The Production ‘Traffic Cop’

Technology has made publishing more efficient. Why can we still not meet deadlines? Everything today is digital. From photography and color-accurate proofs to bluelines and printing plates, technology has reduced production-related costs and time, significantly shortening the production cycle. Editors and designers now are outfitted with machines powerful enough to work with high-resolution images. LCD monitors can be calibrated accurately enough to reduce some of the color-proofing cycles. PDF workflow has significantly reduced issues of missing fonts and images. And for that rare corrupted image error, FTP file transfer has reduced delivery time from overnight to same hour. So why, then, is it

What Are They Doing Right?

We’re at the midpoint of 2008, and thus far, it’s been a tumultuous year for many publishers. Many, but not all. Publishing Executive spoke with the leaders of five publishing properties about the mounting challenges posed by the rising costs of paper and postage, and the prospects of recasting their organizations as players in the ever-evolving e-media environment. All five of these organizations, as it turns out, are prospering in spite of the challenges. In fact, several of them are significantly growing their businesses—and, in doing so, are bucking what many would consider the conventional wisdom of “riding out” these difficult times by