The Magazine World is Looking Up – At E-Readers

The plague on magazines might be just about over, reports Crain’s.  Time, Condé Nast and Hearst all expect their ad pages for the first quarter of the new year to be flat or even up a little, which could be cause for much yelling and clapping in a world where doom has been the order of the day for almost two years.  Consumer interest in magazines never really waned that much (total circulation only fell 1% in 2009), and now Detroit is rediscovering print as the medium of choice for their new model launches.

Magazines are discovering new forms of media as advertisers return to print. Condé Nast created a digital version of GQ in December and sold it over iTunes. The December issue sold 6,614 copies this way, and the January number almost doubled that.  Even after Apple took its 30% cut, the magazine made $39,000 and is calling that a success. How could you call that success?  Because, as MediaMemo points out, it gives Condé Nast “confidence that it will be able to port the app”  to the tablet computer that Apple still hasn’t said it will be launching next week. 

Speaking of the Apple tablet, Amazon is apparently running scared, and this week the company began to offer a new royalty option for its Kindle platform under which authors and publishers can receive 70% of list price net of delivery costs. The goal, according to ZDNet’s Between the Lines  blog, “is Amazon is getting a jump on any looming Kindle threat from Apple and a bevy of other companies entering the e-reader race.” While this move will certainly placate any authors or publishers who are concerned about losing their revenue stream in an e-reader age, Between The Lines raises the question of how much control Amazon would have over pricing of written works. While at the moment, Amazon owns the bulk of e-reader market share, the market is in such early days that the peak upon which the company perches is wicked shaky.
And lest you think that the e-reader market is too small to notice yet (whether you are e-reading on a Kindle, a Nook, a Sony e-reader or what have you) after the e-reader explosion at the Consumer Electronics show a few weeks ago, ananalyst from Susquehanna Financial Group estimated that mover 10 million of them will ship this year.

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