Posts Tagged ‘e-readers’

Of E-Readers and What’s Up With Next Issue Media

June 25, 2010

Do you remember Next issue Media, the joint venture between several magazines that was supposed to revolutionize digital content and platforms for the magazine industry, and become the “Hulu of Magazines”?  John Squires, late of Time Magazine, was named the interim Managing Director while the board looked for a CEO.  Which they ultimately found in Morgan Guenther, who had been CEO of a wireless entertainment services company, AirPlay, and formerly with TiVo.  In the meantime though, points out PaidContent, lots of platforms have come upon the market, with no digital content from Next Issue.  So the magazines themselves have had to work out the logistics there.

Now, who needs a third-party company, and for what? Analytics, maybe, but that’s really where Apple and other platform/device companies are the gatekeepers. One of the stated goals of the company: develop a common digital storefront. Well, while that idea sounds grand, again, it isn’t their decision; in iPad’s case it is Apple’s decision to not let any third party sell content outside of their system, and unlikely that will change soon.

Oh, and by the way, PaidContent’s piece, which was written before the CEO decision was made,  has a fairly grueling tale of the interview process through which candidates for the position had to go.

And speaking of e-readers, you may recall that at the beginning of the year, Hearst showcased its own e-reader, the Skiff.  This was a large format e-reader meant for the digital perusal of periodicals, and was supposed to launch around now.  But it won’t.  Last week,  News Corp. said that it had purchased Skiff from Hearst–but only the publisher’s e-reader software platform. Hearst still owns the actual device, but Peter Kafka in MediaMemo reports that the company is looking to unload it.  News Corp and Hearst had been talking about a deal for some time, and the whole idea behind the Skiff was to create a digital platform for  the production, distribution and sale of periodicals on a variety of platforms.  Actually this was exactly what Next Issue Media was supposed to do, as well (Hearst is also a member of that joint venture).

Meanwhile, News Corp, says Kafka,

… now has several different ways to play digital media e-commerce: In addition to Skiff, it has a stake in whatever Next Issue Media builds, as well as the digital commerce platform that News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal has built (it’s possible these latter two will be combined).

And News Corp. has purchased yet another option, by buying a stake in Journalism Online, the Gordon Crovitz/Steve Brill online subscription platform.

That’s a whole lot of choices for a market that doesn’t really exist yet, and I assume those will consolidate over time. Keep watching…

And then there are the e-reader price wars.  Nook lowered its price to $199.  The next day Amazon lowered the price of the Kindle to $189. Dennis Kneale of CNBC suggests that Amazon abandon the price war altogether and just give the Kindle away for free with a book club subscription, “or  team up with print-media companies that would subsidize the cost of making Kindles and give ’em away free as the new distribution platform for their newspapers and magazines. Another ally: big brands that could hand out the Kindle as part of their customer service—banks, retailers, bookstore chains,   Wal-Mart”. As reasoning, he notes that amazon has sold 2.5 million Kindles in teh close to 3 years since its introduction.  The iPad, he says, has sold 2 million since April.  Actually Apple announced on Wednesday that it has so far sold 3 million iPads.  No wonder nobody wants to buy the Skiff.


E-Readers Really Are Saving Magazines

April 26, 2010

Well, it won’t make magazine publishing extinct, that’s for sure, and it, as well as other e-readers, may actually end up being the saving grace that publishers hoped they would be.  A study by Mediamark Research showed that more e-reader owners read magazines either in print or online than their unconnected peers do – 91% vs 84%.  They also read more magazines. Whereas the general population reads 11 magazine issues per month, e-reader readers read 13 issues per month.  In addition,  e-reader owners value the magazines more than the average adult.

To bring that point home a bit, Zinio, which creates digital versions of magazines for publishers said that its Newsstand is the no. 1 free news app downloaded by iPad owners .  And it’s so far the fifth most downloaded free app, just behind Netflix, and just ahead of the weather channel. That was on then.  Today,  three weeks after the iPad’s launch, Zinio emerged as the number 1 free news app. This should bring joy to the hearts of magazine publishers everywhere.

The Periodic Table of Elements

April 9, 2010

We spoke last week about Theodore Grey’s e-book “The Periodic Table of Elements” which was made specifically for the iPad.  You can see the inestimable Mr. Grey, his Periodic Table table, and how he made his e-book on YouTube: 

Presenting the iPad

April 2, 2010

The whole media world, it seems, was waiting for the iPad reviews to come out this week.  They were almost universally great. Walt Mossberg stopped just short of saying it was “magical and revolutionary” and even PC Magazine, that tecchie sceptic, had one review out of its several that was almost grudgingly positive. If you want to see a whole bunch of reviews side by side, here you go: Although many qualities have been attributed to the iPad, one to note is that it actually IS a laptop – it fits comfortably in your lap  and as Xeni Jardin from Boing Boing says, “It fits well in my lap for tweeting when eating during lunch break, and it’s easy to wipe off a stray mayo glop and get right back to updating the world on the details of my sandwich (using Twitterific for iPad, a free app which does what it promises on the tin).” Jardin also gives a description of the iPad version of the “Periodic Table of Elements”, which sounds, although you may not believe it, unbelievably cool.  Its creator, Theo Grey describes the experience thus: “The Elements on iPad is not a game, not an app, not a TV show. It’s a book. But it’s Harry Potter’s book. This is the version you check out from the Hogwarts library. Everything in it is alive in some way.”

It’s very early days in iPad development – so far most media sites are making themselves iPad ready by stripping out their Flash (which is not compatible). Different media will use it in different ways, and over time, you can envision the melding together of the different media in which a story can be told – book, movie, TV show —  and having them all in one package. Immediately, it will shine, compared to its greatest competition, as an e-book reader.  It’s in color for one thing, which means that the big problem with the Kindle as a text book reader has been eliminated.  And, as far as that competition is concerned, a study of anticipated purchase of e-book readers over the next 12 months showed that… well, here, see for yourself:

PriceGrabber E-reader survey

Of course one of the main reasons that the iPad will easily outpace the Kindle is that is more than just an e-book reader.  The PriceGrabber study also asked people what they would be using their real or imagined iPad for. Only 13% of 1,631 people interviewed said they would use it primarily as an e-reader. (more…)

Print Rushes to Create iPad Apps

March 26, 2010

Although most of them have not yet seen an actual real-life device,  print media are falling all over themselves rushing to get some sort of app ready for next week’s launch of the iPad.  A recent comScore poll of consumers found that among potential iPad owners, 37% of them plan to read books on it, 34% said that they would read newspapers and magazines, and guess what, they’re willing to pay for it all.  Those who already own some sort of “i” device are familiar enough with the iTunes model of purchasing digital content to be willing to use it to make purchases on the iPad,and 52%  are willing to shell out for content, as opposed to 22% of non-i consumers.   But whether you’re an “i” consumer or some other letter, you are going to paying up if you want to read stuff.  Pricings are starting to emerge, says PCWorld.  The Wall Street Journal, for instance, is going to be charging $17.99 a month for their app. (interestingly, the Journal charges $14.99 a month for a subscription on a Kindle, and $12.99 a month for a print and online subscription,  so obviously the newspaper is seeing this as a different kind of medium, with additional features.) WSJ discusses ad pricing on these new subscriptions, and for the time being anyway, advertisers are rushing to get spots on the apps. And back to comScore’s findings, I found it noteworthy that the unaided brand awareness of the iPad and the Kindle are identical, despite the fact that one has been around for a few years and the other one won’t be a reality until next Saturday.  The Apple hype machine works, it really does.

The Magazine World is Looking Up – At E-Readers

January 22, 2010

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?  (more…)

Why Kindle Can’t Go to College

January 15, 2010

Amazon has been trying to peddle its Kindle as a natural for the classroom.  Rather than having to schlep tons of books around, and to offset the high cost of printed texts, it seems on the fact of it to be a good idea.  But it’s not an idea that’s really functional – without the ability to accurately represent the contents of a textbook, with graphics and color, and without the ability to write in the margins, it seemed it might be a while till the idea really caught on.  And yet, Amazon keeps giving the thing to colleges to try out.  This week the company suffered a major setback in these efforts when three of the universities doing a test drive of the device  agreed not to “purchase, recommend or promote the use of the Kindle DX” until they are fully usable by students who are blind.  While the device has a text-to-speech option, its menus are not, says the National Federation of the Blind “accessible to the blind…making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon’s Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions available…” The Department of Justice , which made the deals with the three schools, says that these agreements “underscore the importance of full and equal educational opportunities for everyone.”  While Amazon had no comment , they did say two years ago that they were working on an audible menu system that would make the Kindle usable for the visually impaired. And Kindle is not the only e-reader covered in the agreement – they all are.