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Could the iPad save publishing? Not if publishers have anything to do with it

From the Turkeys Voting for Christmas department, or rather AdAge, via Business Insider:

Consumers who think iPad editions should cost no more than print editions and perhaps should cost less — given all the money publishers save on paper, printing and distribution — are going to be disappointed.

I suspect the correct version of that is: “Publishers who think iPad editions should cost more than print editions are going to be disappointed”.

So why on earth do some publishers think we’ll pay more?

“The question is what the app subscription costs against buying the app 12 times,” Maxim Editor in Chief Joe Levy said.

Readers won’t see it that way, but they’ll need to adjust their expectations, said Andrew Degenholtz, president at ValueMags, a magazine-subscription marketer. “They’re thinking, ‘We’re not knocking down any trees, there’s no ink being used, and there’s no truck being used to deliver it,'” he said. “But there are significant editorial costs, creative costs and research-and-development and production costs,” he said.

That’s pretty much what the music business said about digital music for the last ten years. Worked out just great for them, didn’t it?

Update:

It’s worth mentioning – as Adam Banks did on Twitter when I posted the AdAge link – that in the US, print subscriptions cost a pittance. For example, Popular Science is about ten, twelve dollars as a subscription but the official newsstand price is four dollars and ninety-nine cents per issue. Then again, hardly anybody pays the newsstand price: unlike the UK, most mags in the US are sold via subscription.

2 replies on “Could the iPad save publishing? Not if publishers have anything to do with it”

I thought the rule of thumb with magazines was:

Cover price covers physical production;
Advertising covers content.

In which case, they should cost nothing.

Problem is that online advertising – which I’m assuming iPad ads would be akin to – doesn’t generate anything like the sums old-school print ads did. Circulation is likely to be smaller too, so while there’s crowing about Wired’s iPad sales – 70-odd-thousand compared to 80-odd-thousand newsstand sales – there’s a huge novelty factor to it right now and very little competition. Print subs do 672K per month, according to conde nast’s media kit – to hit that you’d need 1 in 3 iPad owners to buy Wired.

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