Written by Noemi Pollack on December 4, 2009.
When Amazon’s Kindle DX, a multi-purpose version of its digital eBook reader was unveiled in late Spring ‘09, I wrote in a blog dated May 7, that the debut of that device could very well be the “knight in shining armor” that would save the beleaguered newspaper industry. It didn’t, as yet, but it certainly is on its way to boost the book publishing industry. Most newspapers can still be had for free.
Now, just six months later, publishers are making big plans for another potential savior, one that has yet to hit the marketplace.
Rumor has it that the much speculated and anticipated Tablet due to be created by Apple (who has yet to confirm that it is even being worked on) has publishers salivating at the opportunity for salvation. Publishers are in the throes of making big plans and spending big money for a device that has yet to come to market.
First it was Condé Nast, who announced they are preparing a digital version of Wired magazine for the Apple Tablet by the middle of next year, followed by its other 18 titles. And now it’s Time Inc. that has just released a video demonstration of a “tabletized” Sports Illustrated.
Magazine reading will now be as much about watching and browsing and choosing video elements, as reading, in essence delivering information and the interactive experience that is already available on the Internet, but within a new portable format.
It’s not clear how the Apple Tablet would be publishers’ salvation as yet. Just as newspapers’ continue their struggle to monetize their content when it can be had for free on the Web, why would a magazine thrive on a tablet, when it too can be had for free?
Digital magazines are not the same as books, read Amazon’s Kindle or music, read iTunes, — neither of which offers content that can be had for free elsewhere. If digital magazines will not be totally supported by advertising, as I suspect they won’t, then clearly they will need to seek subscribers for their digital versions and charge, as Amazon does per book, per magazine. And what would be the lure to spend for what can be had free?
The only answer that seems plausible today is that it becomes a lifestyle choice, as in convenience when traveling or on the go — a take-along choice, with 30 or so, favorite titles, on one tablet. In that sense it would simulate Amazon’s Kindle, which is also a lifestyle choice, with the difference that lifestyle choice or not, the books are not free.
Still, Apple may have something else in mind helping publishers monetize as they did for music publishers and developers in the app store.
Watch them swoop in, as anticipated, and grab the publishing world by storm, much like they did the music world.