Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Devices are Key to the Future of Digital Magazines and Newspapers

There is a very interesting article posted by Jack Shafer in his blog - Slate.  While Jack is not necessarily a strong supporter of the functionality of digital editions in the marketplace today (except for the New York Times - Times Reader), he makes some excellent points about the how the roll out of devices (and who controls the content on them) will play an increasingly critical part of business content distribution going forward.  Some of his key points that resonate with me:

  • While the Kindle is a major step forward -with its wireless ability to download new content on the go -  the reader experience is still far from great - no colors or fonts or great image display. In addition, its display of non-kindle formats is very cumbersome.  Its design and functioning is intended to make Amazon the gatekeeper for newspaper and magazine content - with them benefiting and publishers potentially losing out as low penetration of the device itself will limit the market potential.
  • Having an industry standard format that would be device agnostic to allow publisher's content to be distributed to many devices - current ones we have now (PCs, Mobile phones, Smart Phones, e-book readers) and ones that continue to evolve,  without a proprietary digital format would be ideal.
  • Such a standard would allow Publishers to directly distribute content themselves, or alternatively use aggregators - like an itunes for magazine and newspaper content, to bundle and sell content in that way.
  • Jack goes on to recognize that while the New York Times Reader format is a step ahead for the reader, he expresses some remorse that the great full page ads are not available, as they are in the print version.   In addition, he recognizes the need to marry great ad content with great content experience as the ultimate solution - for readers and for publishers who need to make money to support ongoing creation of such great content.

As a vendor in the digital edition marketplace today, we are a key part of this evolution, as we constantly work with publishers and readers to improve and deliver content in such a way to maximize the reader experience, maximize the advertising potential, and minimize the disruption to the current content creation and production processes.  There is no doubt that the creation of content will continue to evolve to reflect where the readers and revenue are.  As more readers move from print to digital, more effort will be placed in altering creation processes to create the best experience based on the device used to read.