Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big U.S. magazine companies to collaborate on digital publishing of their products

The largest U.S. magazine companies, which publish more than 50 of the best known magazines being published today are banding together to create a new company to publish digital editions of their products. According to a story in the New York Observer, Time Inc., Condé Nast and Hearst are expected to join the new company, to be headed on an interim basis by John Squires, executive vice-president at Time Inc.

The details are not yet known, but what is known is its purpose: to produce and market editions of all their magazines in as many forms as possible, including print, and for use on a whole range of digital devices, such as iPhones and Blackberry. The comparison with iTunes is unmistakeable.
Each magazine publisher now believes it’s too risky to go it alone to find new ways to get consumers to pay. If they all join together, the reasoning goes, they stand a better chance of producing greater revenue.

The deal is taking time to complete because it involves so many moving pieces.

“It’s pretty complicated stuff,” said a source. “The really, really hard part is that you’ve got so many different kinds of devices running on different operating systems. And how do you handle that? The consortium provides one point of contact for the consumer. When you come to the main store, you can get the content any way you want.”
It's interesting to see the big guys starting to play nice together, particularly in the face of brash startups, such as Maggwire

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Huffington Post...

James Coffin - here's just a part of his brilliant analysis....

This is not a remedy offering much hope to magazines. Fortunately, John Squires may understand that, at least per The Observer piece where he says, "Unlike books and music, I think [for magazines] it involves designing a new product in order for it to be something that consumers really love."

What do consumers really love about magazines? They love discovery. Magazines delight readers with the unexpected things, which may be why it is so hard to translate the business opportunity into a cost-per-pleasing-new-fact-or-insight. The very thing that makes magazines innately desirable is the thing that is hard to put a price on. It is, in fact, all the "other stuff", in contrast to what users sought on albums and CDs.

What is the price of this sort of serendipity? How does one bottle it in a digital world where there is so little peripheral vision - where it is all sharp angles and edges, and pointless searches down one rabbit hole after another?

People don't pay for content. Perhaps this is why: it is not content they are buying. It is experience. It is the pleasing discovery of things they did not know they wanted to know, connected usually to their interests at heart. We will pay for personal enrichment. No wonder it appears the interest-based magazines that come into our house are thriving, but the general-interest based magazines we see elsewhere are not. Where our interests lie, so does our desire to be led (and our willingness to pay).

9:09 am  

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