Will Apple save the publishing world?

  • Posted: 04 May 2009 01:34 AM

    I have believed Newspapers were dead with commercial TV not far behind. But maybe some of the newspapers and magazines may be resuscitated.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/04/technology/companies/04reader.html?_r=1&ref=business

    Now where the heck is the Apple Tablet?

    What is your take?

         
  • Posted: 04 May 2009 02:54 AM #1

    I am overwhelmed with the web content available on my Macbook (home) and 12” Powerbook (pickup truck, work). I find limited utility in another device with less computing power.

         
  • Posted: 04 May 2009 03:18 AM #2

    I haven’t subscribed to a newspaper in years and it’s been at least a couple of years since I purchased a newsstand copy. I keep two magazine subscriptions: National Geographic and MacWorld. I renewed the MacWorld subscription after a 6-month promotional subscription that came with a new Mac. I don’t know why I renewed it other than it was cheap.

         
  • Posted: 04 May 2009 06:37 AM #3

    I agree wtih you, Snipus, although I was recently surprised to learn that 82% of British people over 16 still list watching TV as their main spare time activity. I suppose they’ll die eventually!

    Apple and Amazon look as if they are working together to kick start the business (why else would Amazon buy Stanza?); Apple won’t force all content through the iTunes store. Apple will probably leave e-paper devices to Amazon, and Amazon leave more general purpose LCD/OLED devices for Apple. Both already offer content for sale. Publishers will make the same mistake the music labels made, of trying to force consumers to buy bundles (subscriptions/album sales) when the internet mandates individual article access even more than for music. For those willing to embrace the future, there is an opportunity to build new brands in text publishing which will replace the old. For example, one or two of the web sites in your bookmarks bar.

    Is it possible that, seeing the success of the App Store, Apple will say to old model publishing (music, movie and print) - “We offered you a big space in the new business, but you refused and refused, and now we’re going ahead on our own direct with content creators.”?

         
  • Posted: 04 May 2009 09:00 AM #4

    From Briefing this morning

    07:50   AMZN Amazon.com: Publishers nurture rivals to Kindle - WSJ (78.96 )

    WSJ reports some newspaper and magazine cos, feeling let down by the Kindle electronic reader from Amazon.com, are pushing for alternatives. A few publishers are forging alliances with consumer-electronics cos to support e-readers that meet their needs. Chief among their complaints about the Amazon portable reading gadget is the way Amazon acts as a middleman with subscribers and controls pricing. In addition, the layout isn’t conducive to advertising. Hearst is backing a venture with FirstPaper to create a software platform that will support digital downloads of newspapers and magazines. The startup venture is expected to result in devices that will have a bigger screen and have the ability to show ads. People familiar with the matter have said Apple (AAPL) is readying a device that may make it easier to read digital books and periodicals, a prospect some publishers are eagerly awaiting. News (NWS.A) also is exploring a possible investment in a Kindle competitor. Gannett’s (GCI) USA Today and Pearson’s (PSO) Financial Times are among newspapers that have signed up with Plastic Logic, a startup that is readying a reading tablet, the size of a letter-sized sheet of paper, that can displays books, periodicals and work documents. The device, which uses digital ink technology from E Ink, the same co behind the Kindle, is slated to be rolled out by early next year, and will offer publishers the chance to include ads.

         
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    Posted: 04 May 2009 11:18 AM #5

    I think the tablet will, to SOME extent, save print media but it will still be a rough road.  Many magazines will have to find a way to charge for online content successfully.  My guess is that certain magazines, after switching to an online-only format, will begin to charge a buck a month or something very cheap ($5/yr?).  Many won’t survive but as technology improves and we not only get a tablet but much more interactive content (ie video instead of, or in addition to, stills and more advanced content such as the ability to upload your photo and see what you would look like with a different hair style etc. - this already exists btw on instyle.com under makeovers), there will be an ability for content providers to do some exceptional things.  I guess only time will tell but it certainly seems that touchscreen technology is the next great hope for print media.

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  • Posted: 04 May 2009 11:45 AM #6

    There is obviously a huge shake out going on in print media and Apple is well placed to become a major force in distribution.
    I rarely smudge my fingers any more with newsprint but I value the professional labor that goes into the articles we link to.
    I think, web denizens discount the editing and fact checking that is “still” a big part of print journalism.
    Bathrobe publishing is great and I read it daily, but at some point a diet of nothing but citizen journalism will be about as appealing as citizen dentistry.

         
  • Posted: 04 May 2009 12:11 PM #7

    Larger Kindle coming this week? Competition for Apple’s Tablet? (Update: Wednesday)
    Sun, 05/03/2009 - 21:53 ? Seth Weintraub

    According to the New York Times, Amazon is going to release a bigger version of the Kindle soon, possibly as early as this week.  The device will be aimed at newspapers and large format magazines who have been hit extremely hard by ad spending downturns.  Although the current Kindle has a 6” screen, users and companies are said to have been left wanting for more screen real estate…for content and ads.  The WSJ also reported on this earlier.

    Also, keep in mind that Apple’s rumored netbook/tablet touch screen is 10 inches.  The Times expects there to be some overlap.

    Update: It looks like Wednesday at Pace University in lower Manhattan.

    But it is Amazon, maker of the Kindle, that appears to be first in line to try throwing an electronic life preserver to old-media companies. As early as this week, according to people briefed on the online retailer?s plans, Amazon will introduce a larger version of its Kindle wireless device tailored for displaying newspapers, magazines and perhaps textbooks.

    An Amazon spokesman would not comment, but some news organizations, including The New York Times, are expected to be involved in the introduction of the device, according to people briefed on the plans. A spokeswoman for The Times, Catherine J. Mathis, said she could not comment on the company?s relationship with Amazon.

    Normal sized Kindles retail for $359 at Amazon. It isn’t certain which price point the new larger models will come in at.

    Update:

    As noted by Peter Kafka over at All Things Digital, the location of the Amazon event—Pace University—is the historic, 19th century HQ to the New York Times which is said to be partnering with Amazon on the larger Kindle. That makes for a perfect symbolic bridge from old to new media. We’ll have to wait and see if newspaper subscribers can be lured across.

    Update: We have a reliable tip that Barbara Snyder, president of Case Western Reserve University, and Arthur Sulzberger, top man at the New York Times will join Amazon’s Jeff Bezos on stage Wednesday. So it looks like a new Kindle focused on textbooks and newspapers is a lock.

    [ Edited: 04 May 2009 12:16 PM by willrob ]      
  • Posted: 04 May 2009 12:38 PM #8

    ma and pa kettle - 04 May 2009 02:45 PM

    There is obviously a huge shake out going on in print media and Apple is well placed to become a major force in distribution.
    I rarely smudge my fingers any more with newsprint but I value the professional labor that goes into the articles we link to.
    I think, web denizens discount the editing and fact checking that is “still” a big part of print journalism.
    Bathrobe publishing is great and I read it daily, but at some point a diet of nothing but citizen journalism will be about as appealing as citizen dentistry.

    Are you suggesting most daily newspapers some how maintain an ethic of well-researched and well-written reporting? What appears on the front pages of most daily newspapers are the same stories from the same major news outlets (AP, Reuters, BBC, etc.) that appeared on the Web the day before. I see little to no unique value to newspapers versus online news sources and the advertising rates are pushing newspapers out of business. Long gone are the days in which papers invested heavily in local reporting and provided a value to readers that can’t be obtained through other news distribution sources.

    How often have you read articles in print that highlight kindly the interests of major paper advertisers? I’ve read plenty. The barriers between editorial and reporting interests and the interests of major advertisers appear to be been blurred.

         
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    Posted: 04 May 2009 12:58 PM #9

    I rarely buy a printed newspaper, but I read the local ones online as well as ones from my hometown. It got to be hassle to recycle the newsprint and that is the primary reason I gave up the subscription.

    Magazines. I have MacWorld, MacAddict, and Layers subscriptions. My wife get several gardening ones which I also read, she does flowers and I do vegetables and herbs. The gardening magazines have sold her name to a cooking magazine and they sent a sample and as the chief (only) cook in the house I found it to be excellent and will subscribe to it. AARP and Costco also sends us magazines which we read.

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    Posted: 04 May 2009 01:38 PM #10

    +

    I gave up all subscriptions to magazines years ago, and never buy newspapers, either. For me, nothing beats Google News. I like the searchability, and the sheer scope of available information. It’s like having the Batcave on my iMac. smile

    As for the e-readers, I question the value of reproducing the “print” format (the whole edition of a newspaper or magazine) in electronic form, when the Internet has taught us (me, at least) to appreciate getting information via an a la carte model, where I can pick and choose multiple articles from multiple sources: news sources, blogs, etc., rather than having content served up from a single source (a traditional newspaper or magazine, be it on paper or in a Kindle-type device).

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  • Posted: 04 May 2009 02:40 PM #11

    DawnTreader - 04 May 2009 03:38 PM
    ma and pa kettle - 04 May 2009 02:45 PM

    There is obviously a huge shake out going on in print media and Apple is well placed to become a major force in distribution.
    I rarely smudge my fingers any more with newsprint but I value the professional labor that goes into the articles we link to.
    I think, web denizens discount the editing and fact checking that is “still” a big part of print journalism.
    Bathrobe publishing is great and I read it daily, but at some point a diet of nothing but citizen journalism will be about as appealing as citizen dentistry.

    Are you suggesting most daily newspapers some how maintain an ethic of well-researched and well-written reporting? What appears on the front pages of most daily newspapers are the same stories from the same major news outlets (AP, Reuters, BBC, etc.) that appeared on the Web the day before. I see little to no unique value to newspapers versus online news sources and the advertising rates are pushing newspapers out of business. Long gone are the days in which papers invested heavily in local reporting and provided a value to readers that can’t be obtained through other news distribution sources.

    How often have you read articles in print that highlight kindly the interests of major paper advertisers? I’ve read plenty. The barriers between editorial and reporting interests and the interests of major advertisers appear to be been blurred.

    Ma&Pa; put their finger on the key issue.  But how much professional labor goes into them anymore?  I believe the underlying cause of the decline of both newspapers and television is the lack of valuable content - the lack of professional labor.  Professional journalism has become nearly invisible in both media.  What they spew at us today is entertainment, opinion, talking points, unchecked PR releases, stupid polls, and spin.  And sometimes downright lies.  Both AP and Reuters have been caught multiple times in the last couple of years engaging in false and/or misleading reporting in order to support their preconceived opinions. 

    “News” has come to mean entertainment and/or attempted political persuasion.  As entertainment goes, we all have many better alternatives.  I might be entertained by learning what enchants the president, but I am hardly informed.  And I am more entertained by listening to Emmylou Harris or K.D. Lang.

    The newspapers and networks love to toss around the perjorative “pajama media”.  And many blogs are just as bad and sometimes worse at journalism.  But the proliferation of sources and the ability to sample them freely does allow the discerning reader to find sites that he/she trusts.  And those that are no better at journalism than the major newspapers can and will fail along side of them.

         
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    Posted: 04 May 2009 03:18 PM #12

    I’m a lazy guy who don’t read and don’t watch TV, I’m wondering how I spend my time?

    My wife watch TV shows such as Law & Order and House, watch VCDs/DVDs (mostly non-American TV shows), read Fortune/Money/Consumer Reports/Furniture pubs/Costco pubs and fiction books.

    Although printed materials are of no value to me, there are many folks like my wife who read them.  However, electronic readers don’t appeal to my wife because of screen size and battery issues.

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    Posted: 04 May 2009 06:35 PM #13

    Mace - 04 May 2009 06:18 PM

    I’m a lazy guy who don’t read and don’t watch TV, I’m wondering how I spend my time?

    My wife watch TV shows such as Law & Order and House, watch VCDs/DVDs (mostly non-American TV shows), read Fortune/Money/Consumer Reports/Furniture pubs/Costco pubs and fiction books.

    Although printed materials are of no value to me, there are many folks like my wife who read them.  However, electronic readers don’t appeal to my wife because of screen size and battery issues.

    Someone needs to make a warm and cuddly tablet then! 

    It seems the race in on for the tablet for the masses.  The “rumor” that Amazon will be out with a new Kindle on Wednesday starts to make sense if you look at the huge jump in their stock recently and their astronomical pe of around 50.  gadzooks, I thought those days were over.  guess not.  And that is probably why the stock has been underperforming in the past 5 days or so (wish I would have had the cojones to go against them but I’m careful about momentum these days).  Also it may be a sell the news (as by now a rumor is news when we get around to hearing of it !)

    And the continued rally in Apple?  It seems very steady at the moment, climbing upward.  It may be that the still unconfirmed existence of Steve is confirmed in certain quarters.

         
  • Posted: 05 May 2009 09:49 AM #14

    An All things D reader spells it out:

    The answer will not be found trying to salvage the old business models through clever gadgets, new forms of paper, new laws, lawsuits or pay-walls.

    A lesson worth remembering is that at the turn of the 20th century, people had a transportation problem?and the solution turned out not to be a faster horse?but a Ford. And one should note that the Ford didn?t arise out of the ?horse industry?s? R&D efforts, nor the ?Horse Industry Stabilization Act? nor the horse industry?s attempts to experiment with new Business Models. I think the future of the media business will look as different as Ford and GM?s operations look from horse traders and blacksmiths.

    ????????

    What?s historically given value to editorial content is the relative scarcity of distribution versus readers (not the Kindle kind). Newspapers have historically had natural localized economic monopolies coupled with a finite number of column inches with which to distribute news and ads. That natural monopoly meant that each paper had total control over the amount of content they allowed into their local marketplace.

    Monopoly constraint of distribution and supply will always lead to prices (and profits) significantly above open market rates. These newspapers then built costly organizations commensurate with this stream of monopoly profits (think AT&T in the 1970?s).

    The dynamics of content replication and distribution on the Internet destroys this artificial constraint of distribution and re-aligns ad (and subscription) prices back down to competitive open market rates. The often heard complaint of Internet ad revenue being ?too low? is inverted?the real issue is that traditional ad rates have been artificially boosted for enough decades for participants to assume this represents the long-term norm.

    Unfortunately the Internet came along and changed all the rules!

    Any individual reader now has access to what is essentially an infinite amount of content on any given topic or story. All those silos of isolated editorial content have been dumped into the giant Internet bucket. Once there, any given piece of content can be infinitely replicated and re-distributed to thousands of sites at zero marginal costs. This breaks the back of old media?s monopoly control of distribution and supply.

    The core problem for the newspapers is that in a world of infinite supply, the ability to monetize the value in any piece of editorial content, will be driven to zero?infinite supply pushes price levels to zero

    This isn?t to imply that editorial content doesn?t have real value to most of its readers?it just means that no one source can marshal enough market power to effectively monetize the value of their content in the face of infinite supply and massively fragmented distribution.

    There absolutely are answers to the question of how to create value with online news and to be able to monetize it?but I doubt that new kinds of paper will be any more successful than faster horses?

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  • Posted: 06 May 2009 01:20 PM #15

    Kindle DX is here

    Kindle DX = Kindle + Bigger + PDF viewer + $130

    http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/05/06/prediction-what-kindle-dx-stories-will-appear-today/
    http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE5436R620090506
    http://gizmodo.com/5242310/kindle-dx-offers-97-inches-of-e+ink-for-489
    http://eclipsemagazine.com/cool-tech/9351/

    edit: amazon.com has a guided tour video on the product page.

    [ Edited: 06 May 2009 01:39 PM by sleepytoo ]