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Industry Insight

Print Media and iPad's Profit Potential

BoSacks Speaks Out:

By Bob Sacks
Published: February 3, 2010

BoSacks Speaks Out: I have been tracking the iPad very closely. It is my belief that it is an important device. Why is a good question? The answer is that it isn't so much a device as a universal translator platform, much the same way that an iPhone is not just a phone. It, too, is an ever-evolving platform for the new web 3.0 concept called Apps. Apps are nothing but applications, much like we all have on any of our computers. They perform specific functions and are sold by the hundreds of thousands. On an iPhone, or now on an iPad, they transform the device/platform into damn near anything. That is the beauty and the innate power of the concept. This terrific power is being offered to publishers, but at a terrible price. The price is the total revision of our age-old business model. If we sell products through the Apple iStore, we don't get to capture the customers' data. That is a relationship breaker rather than a relationship developer. Our publishing model used to be about developing relationship and up-selling our products over an extended period of time. I will speak more on that subject in another posting.

All that being said about us publishers, it is my belief that the iPad is more powerful than most people realize, because the product is a constantly morphing, magical, anything you want it to be thingamajig. Only your imagination or lack thereof can prevent it from becoming, well, almost anything. There are 140,000 Apps right now for the iPhone. They all work on the iPad, too, and we are just getting started. Apple announced the iPhone on January 9, 2007 - a mere three years ago. Can you imagine what is in store for a device like this three years from now?

I am not touting Apple or Steve Jobs as anything but very clever marketers who understand the social psyche, modern industrial design and supreme "use" functionality. Those traits are clearly very powerful tools.

For publishers it is a special moment in time - a chance to gain a new set of readers without abandoning the very special realm of paginated media. Above all else we need to take the concept of the page where perhaps it was intended to go all along. Keeping the page format empowers us to do what we have done for a 100 years - sell advertisers our very valuable real estate. The iPad and the many other new like devices are a natural digital magazine apparatus, that just might bring the luster and the profitability of the Internet age to the publishing houses of the world. This, of course, doesn't at all mean that we have to abandon the printed page, but rather that we now have an additional quality path to monetize our franchise of content.

 

Discussion

By Kevin Mack on Feb 07, 2010

You say if publishers sell through the Apple iStore they won't get to capture the customer's data.
I would argue that many publishers who sell through bookshops or magazine retailers do not have any relationship with the reader and rarely any contact.
The iPad is a game-changer. Content delivered to the iPad either through Apple's iStore or directly from the publisher's store can be tracked to the reader's iPad. Publishers will get to know who is reading and what they are reading. And the reader can instantly respond by clicking on ads or interactive content.
I own a printing business and we print Student Reader Packs (customised courseware) as well as many self-published books. Will the iPad have a disruptive effect on my business? Absolutely! And the disruption will occur sooner than any of us can predict.
I'm just happy that I'm not in the magazine printing business printing titles with low subscription rates.

 

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