Archive for the ‘e-Readers’ Category
Partick Smith’s closing comment on the The Media Briefing’s Making ebooks a news publishing revenue stream really struck a chord with me. Patrick is somewhat skeptical about asking readers to pay twice for the same content. His solution:
Maybe it’s best to think of an ebook as a special edition DVD, complete with a director’s cut, behind the scenes extras and cast commentaries. Something fans will pay for.
One of the last projects I oversaw before I left the day job was an eBook published for the iPad (it’s here if you’re interested). It’s a nicely designed publication, expertly curated from magazine archives to give readers a single place to go for comprehensive coverage of a single issue. The team added a concise overview video from the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, but otherwise it was completely repurposed content.
That project was sponsored and is free to download on registration but it’s valid to ask, as Patrick does, will readers will pay for a collection of articles that they may have previously read in a magazine or online. Some will. The convenience value of an eBook themed around an important issue shouldn’t be underestimated: This is the premise behind every yearbook ever published. But the idea of additional unseen director’s cut content has to be a powerful, additional incentive to purchase.
The problem is, where is the extra content going to come from? It’s natural for cash-strapped publishers to see eBooks as free money and the thought of investing in additional content doesn’t sit well. But if investing to create a more attractive product means sales will improve, then that has to be money well spent. Curate your existing content, spot the gaps and commission additonal content to fill them. This could be an up-to-the minute opinion piece that brings fresh perspective to archive material, an overview that ties together the threads of the various articles that make up the eBook, or video and audio that lifts the eBook beyond a words & pictures archive re-tread.
But this is playing catch-up with legacy content. The best, and most cost-effective, way to add value is to schedule “behind the scenes extras and cast commentaries” into your regular content creation process. If you have it in the back (or the front) of your mind that an article will one day be re-published as part of an eBook, plan for it. It’s difficult to imagine all the places your content might end up, but if you can focus on the requirements of your key digital formats it’s not impossible.
The problem with so much crossmedia activity is that publishers are trying to satisfy new media expectations with old media. There’s nothing you can do about the past, and the fact that you don’t have boat loads of digital extras shouldn’t stop you experimenting with new digital formats like eBooks. But the sooner you start to plan for the enhanced content requirements of digital, the sooner you will be able to add the value that differentiates your digital offering from your established products and tap into new revenue streams.
How long have we been listening to the digital-media divas beat-up magazine publishers over their lack of progress in the print-digital transition? Well, this quote really cheered me up.
It’s from Russ Grandinetti, VP for Kindle content at Amazon, speaking at the Association of Magazine Media’s annual conference in San Francisco . Did you read what he said? Nice… Long… Slow. No doom, no gloom, just a nice, long, slow transition.
So what’s going on? Why has a guy who’s whole reason for being is digital content come over all warm and fuzzy about printed magazines?
Well for one thing it’s the truth. The rumours of print’s death have been greatly exaggerated – most magazine publishers would find it tough to turn the lights on in the morning without their print revenues. If only the magazine industry could stop panicking long enough to realise that.
More importantly Mr Grandinetti desperately wants magazine content on his devices and he seems to have, refreshingly, decided to ditch the Firefighter’s shrill cry of “Jump! The platform’s on fire” for the Estate Agent’s soothing “How can we help you relocate with the least possible upset”.
None of this means that print will do anything but decline over time; without the miracle of an overnight switch from audience and advertisers, publishers are going to have to make their way in a predominantly digital world eventually. But woudn’t it be nice if the print disruptors and the digital enablers saw the sense in swapping digital sticks for digital carrots.
Anything that helps publishers work with print and digital in parallel is a good thing. Grandinetti noted in his speech that when Kindle started out it was print books that were it’s toughest competition. Similarly, it’s print that gets in the way of everyone reading magazine content on their Kindles or iPhones or whatever.
Much better then, to help publishers build out the complimentary advantages of digital – tracking, ecommerce, portability – and celebrate the enduring practicality of ink on paper, at least until the rumours of print’s death finally come true.
I just read a post on Australian Business Traveller. Not something I’ve ever done before, but this could have been written just for me; Editor David Flynn is asking Australian flyers how they read in-flight.
This is a subject close to my heart. I reckon I spent at least 200 hours in the air last year, mostly transatlantic. I had to get the calculator out, but that’s 8.33 days stuck in an aircraft seat with not much to do but read, play games or watch movies. I’ll watch the odd film and play the odd game of seatback backgammon, but I spend most of my flying hours reading.
My routine is pretty predictable. On the way out I buy a real-live copy of the New Statesman, that gets me through the personal electronics device blackout of take off to my meal. After the chicken or beef I move to my iPad, where I bounce between Instapaper and my newest favourite magazine. But I can’r read too long on the iPad screen and eventually I’ll move on to the Kindle and one of the 10 books I’m reading at any given time.
It’s pretty much the same on the way back, magazines, iPad, Kindle, although Newark’s Hudson News stores seem to offer a wider choice that Manchester’s WH Smith.
The point in sharing my inflight reading habits really has nothing to do with my reading habits or the flight. The travel scenario just brings the range of choices available to magazine readers into narrow focus. In everyday life, on planes, on trains, in living rooms and bedrooms, offices and cafes, people are reading pixels and paper in all sorts of formats and for all sorts of reasons.
The challenge for publishers is to make sure that their content is available on the formats that make most sense for their audience in the places that their audience wants it. Quick hits on the move, get on smartphones; lean-back long-form, paper’s probably still your best bet; if you’re thing is searchability, the web on the desktop makes sense; and if you’re pushing social sharing, tablets could be the way to go.
There are no easy answers, like me on a plane, everyone is using multiple platforms. You need to figure out which ones your audience uses most and be there for when they need you.
Read the original Australian Business Traveller article here.
Interesting that, just as Apple gets its corporate head around iPad magazines and announces the Newsstand with iOS5, HP is launching a digital magazine along with it TouchPad tablet. The magazine (some say weekly, some say monthly) has the mission of promoting apps for the webOS 3.0 platform and will be free to anyone owning a TouchPad (due out in July). All about “discovering webOS 3.0 applications”, early PR says HP Pivot will focus on app reviews and developer profiles. But HP also hints at contributions from big name journalists, quoting a senior Condé Nast staffer in one press release, as saying Pivot is a “great environment for developers considering the platform.”
No surprise that HP is pushing its own apps a key differentiator for the TouchPad, but encouraging that it has chosen a digital magazine as the best way to communicate that to users.
With announcements from Samsung and Toshiba at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin last week, it looks like the big boys are gearing up to go after a share of the tablet market initiated by Apple’s iPad. It’s anyone’s guess whether they can compete with Apple, which already has an “installed” user base of over 3 million with the iPad. Early signs are that competition will centre on smaller sizes, lower prices and on the things missing from the iPad: Cameras and Flash, for example.
Why should magazine people care what’s going on in the consumer tech market? As long as digital magazines are tied to the desktop, usage will be limited. Tablets make digital magazines portable again – the one huge benefit of print that digital media has struggled with. The more tablet devices out there, the easier it will be for people to read digital magazines like they read print magazines, on the sofa, on the train, anywhere they want.
We can maybe imagine a world where everyone has an iPad. It might even be quite nice: Universal publishing standards could be set, we would all know where we stood. But the reality is that not everyone will buy an iPad, Apple doesn’t have all the answers and competition can only be good for this market. After some false starts, we might finally be seeing the development of a sustainable Tablet computer market, but we are only at the beginning. The more big players that get involved, the more choice consumers will have and the more likely users are to adopt these devices.
Just to be clear – by users I mean your readers, and by devices, I mean platforms for your digital magazines.