Magazines Go Digitial

I ran across the article below in The New York Time.  It describes how magazines will finally join us in the digital space. I have to say that it’s about time!  My Saturday afternoons use to be filled with me on the sofa and a pile of InStyle, Time, Essence, and at least two other fashion magazines, two industry publications and three home decorating magazines covering the living room floor. I’d spend the day flipping through my favorite magazines and the next few days trying to figure out A) what to do with all those pages I cut out but never again will look at and B) how I was going to get rid of these darn magazines.  Now, problem solved… they are going digital!

The failing publishing industry has forced magazines to reinvent themselves… as so many of us have already done. Enter the age of the electronic magazine. It had to be done because magazine ads are going down the drain… along  with their readership.  I can’t even tell you the last time I bought a magazine… or a book… or a newspaper or even a CD.  If I can’t download it, I don’t want it.  It seems I’m not alone.

Yet, some people are complaining about the new advancement and are asking, “do I really did yet one more gadget to carry around”?  Well, never fear, because with the Apple’s Tablet, slated to ship in March, you will be able to combine your viewing and listening pleasure in one gadget.  In the meantime here’s an excerpt from the New York Times (which I got off line, of course) and two YouTube videos on the hottest new electronic magazine trends.

New York Time – Magazines Get Ready for Tablets By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD

After letting the Internet slip away from them and watching electronic readers like the Kindle from Amazon develop without their input, publishers are trying again with Apple iPhones and, especially, tablet computers.

Although publishers have not exactly been on the cutting edge of technology, two magazines — Esquire and GQ — have developed iPhone versions, while Wired and Sports Illustrated have made mockups of tablet versions of their print editions, months before any such tablets come to market. Publishers are using the opportunity to fix their business model, too.

Read full story

E-Readers changing Publishing Business

By now I’m sure you are familiar with Amazon Kindle, the software and hardware platform developed by an Amazon.com subsidiary for reading e-books and other digital media.  Now, Best Buy and Verizon are jumping into the electronic reading devise game.

irex-iliad-book-editionOn Wednesday, iRex Technologiers, plans to announce a $399 touch-screen e-reader.  With your new iRex you will be able to purchase digital books and newpapers wirelessly over the 3G network of Verizon, joining the ranks of AT&T and Sprint, two companies who already support e-books.  Then, just in time for early Christmas shopping, the iRex is expected to be sold at a few hundred Best Buys stores, along with a Sony Reader.

This comes at a time when people are turning to e-readers instead of newspapers and books.  “For the second quarter of 2009, total newspaper ad sales fell 29% to $6.8 billion, down from $9.6 billion last year”, according to Q2 figures released by the Newspaper Association of America.  At the same time, “book sales have deteriorated since the beginning of October, falling about 7 percent compared with the same period the previous year”, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of sales.

The down turn in sales in the publishing industry is also being  driven by longer-term trends, including a shift toward digital reading and competition from an array of entertainment options like video games and online social networking.

Social media is changing the game folks.  While many people still “love the feel of the newspaper in the morning” or enjoy “taking an hard cover book on vacation” there is no turning back now and the sales, or lack thereof is telling the story.  The digital age is here and it is crossing over all lines of business. One of the most interesting things to me, in all of the changes in publishing industry, is the increase the higher education market.

The PW/IPR Book Sales Index, a new report from Publishers Weekly and the Institute for Publishing Research, projects that sales of digital books in the higher education market will rise 3.5% in 2009, to an estimated $110.2 million.  Demand for digital books at colleges will accelerate when CourseSmart, the online joint venture created by five publishers to sell digital course material, begins to gain traction. A 17% growth in digital sales is expected to drive a 6.5% increase in the professional segment.

While one industry is on the downswing because of new digital technology, another segment has found a new way of doing business.  We would all be wise to take a second look at our own industry and watch the trends to make sure we are stay ahead of the curve ball in the digital space.

Has the Internet Killed Magazine Publishing?

Has the digital space made magazine publishing obsolete? Yesterday we learned that VIBE magazine has shut down.  Its fall is mostly due to the economic recession that cut the advertising budgets of companies that normally advertised with magazines.  But clearly, not positioning the magazine as a powerhouse on line contributed to its demise.
Obama graces the cover of VIBEMusic legend, Quincy Jones, though no longer the owner of VIBE magazine indicated to EbonyJet.com that he was going to fight to get the magazine back and stated “I’m’a take it on-line because print and all that stuff is over.” Jones went on to tell EboneyJet.com that all publications must figure out how to live on line.  “We gotta get into the 21st century.  Print and all that stuff is over, we gotta remember that.  The Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, The Miami Herald, they’re over the same way as the record business. We have got to get into this century.”  Ironically, the parent company of EboneyJet.com is having it’s own publishing problems as well.

On the heals of VIBE magazines shutting it’s doors, Johnson Publishing Co. is in the hot seat also.  According to Crain Communications Inc, a major publishing conglomerate, sharp drops in advertising and circulation is causing major problems for Ebony magazine and it’s Chairman and CEO Linda Johnson Rice, daughter of founder John Johnson.

Michael Jackson Ebony CoverIn an email statement to Crain, Ms Rice suggested she is “seeking to leverage and expand the brand through partnerships. Last fall, Ebony and Internet-video giant YouTube, a unit of Google Inc., announced the creation of EbonyJet Television. Content includes celebrity interviews and footage of Ebony’s recent photo shoot with actress Jada Pinkett Smith. In January, Johnson announced a partnership with an African-American film studio and forthcoming documentaries on subjects including Mr. Obama and black comedians”.

Whatever the outcome for these two magazines we must keep in mind that to remain competitive your business must figure out a way to live on-line, use the Internet and work the digital space.  How are you and your company positioning yourself on-line?