There is absolutely no way today that I am going to pay $5 for an electronic magazine I have to read on iPads and eReaders.
I don’t know who thought this would be an idea that would fly but it seems to be stillborn out the blocks. Publishers are quickly rethinking their plans due to flops of the early efforts. They probably hoped they could abandon the exorbitant production and distribution costs of print editions and launch themselves into the emerging digital ecosystem. In the light of early consumer negative reactions it looks like that won’t happen any time soon, if ever. For it to have worked they would have to have brought something totally new and innovative to the game that we couldn’t live without. Just running on our cool iPads is just not good enough. This harkens back to some of the original arguments we used to have about how new forms of interaction on websites could and should be enhanced in view of all the new tools and capabilities made possible in the new era. They would have to seriously reinvent the magazine reading and enjoyment experience. That just didn’t happen. They thought that simply repurposing their popular publications and attaching a fee would be enough. It wasn’t, isn’t, and won’t ever be!
So, What to do? Publishers could have shared the print production savings with readers by dramatically lowering per-magazine or subscription costs. They could have brought new highy-interactive levels of articles content by adding great video, audio and bacground information. They could have even developed new innovative ways of organizing and presenting that content . Lastly the most practical idea. They could have invested savings in hiring grat writers to create more and better content and features. All these “could haves” were only half-heartedly considered or attempted. I am still looking for the brilliant publisher that actually “gets it”. He, she, or they would have to be a dyslexic believer in non-linear information presentation with a penchant for reinventing publishing. Mashing up video and creative writing could possibly the bait to lure a harsh critic like me in to take a look or spend my money. But I have very little faith that even if they got it right that they could sustain it over the long haul without diluting it with ads and junk and killing it in attempts to monetize and reap profit.
Either way, some hard choices will have to be made before the print industry implodes or the online industry finds its way.
One of the above ideas is actually going to happen.
Single iPad issues will drop from $3.99 to $4.99 an issue down to $1.99. Yearly subscriptions will cost $19.99. Current print subscribers, will be able to access iPad editions for free.
When this happens, in the near future, I will be one of the first ones to jump on board that train! That could go a long way develop the emerging market and bring the savings that publishers are planning and hoping for. It will be a new day for the imperiled publishing industry.