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Old 03-17-2010, 10:08 AM   #1
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Magazine Apps verses Websites

The iPad and other slates are supposed to user in a new revenue stream for magazine publishers. As I await my iPad, I got to thinking about what would entice me to pay for a magazine app/subscription verses just going to their website for free.

Even if the magazine app is nicer, more interactive etc. -- would I pay for it if I could get the same content as the stuff they put on the web for free? I doubt it. So what would I pay for?

A good and interesting app is just the start. I certainly plan on subscribing to Wired just for the experience of their cutting edge app. But that's not going to fly for long.

Back content. I'd subscribe to a photography magazine if I could also have access to the back issues. I'd hope for not just links to back issues, but integrated search to help find, say, a particular tutorial that was published in a back issue.

Combined print/digital subscription. I surely don't want to have to pay for a magazine and then pay AGAIN for access online. I might be willing to pay a _bit_ more for a combined subscription. I surely expect that whatever online goodies they have on their website, I'd get access to if I subscribed to their magazine app.

What say you?

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Old 03-17-2010, 01:12 PM   #2
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I agree with you, though I wish I had more faith in magazine publishers to be creative (and ambitious) enough to add content to make the additional subscription worthwhile. I subscribe to Sky & Telescope magazine, for example. I would pay an additional amount for the interactive subscription if I received all of the content of the printed version and if there was some additional, interactive content. An interactive sky/star map, direct links to the demos of software/equipment they review, enlargeable versions of images, etc.

Unfortunately, I suspect we'll get more of the same we're seeing from e-reader magazine content now. Poorly formatted articles with sparse images. The ads will be interactive though!
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Old 03-17-2010, 02:42 PM   #3
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The most likely thing to happen is that they will reduce what you are able to get for free and will use the free parts of their sites as advertising for the various paid options.
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Old 03-17-2010, 04:33 PM   #4
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Paid and "internet" haven't gone over very well. I do not think there will be enough iPad users to deter the need for a website anytime soon. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

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Old 03-17-2010, 05:16 PM   #5
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I'm eager to get back into reading magazines, but I refuse to do so until I can own what I subscribe to. A lot of digital subscriptions are online only, but I want the file within my control and in a format that's not too tied down.

I'd love to read Scientific American and Popsci and Wired again, but I've yet to see a model for distribution that I'm okay with. And I'm done with paper subscriptions piling up, so while they dilly dally around trying to figure out how to deliver and protect their content, they're just losing my money. I'll be amazed if they ever come up with something I'm willing to put up with.
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Old 03-17-2010, 05:39 PM   #6
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I'd love to read more magazines too, but I also want to own the content and read them at my speed. I don't like paper magazines because if I don't read them right away they just accumulate and are eventually thrown out unread.

I think the Fictionwise does it right with their magazine selection -- you can get Ellery Queen, Asimov, Analog and a couple of others. They are all sold as DRM-free multiformat books that are yours forever. You can buy them one issue at a time at the newsstand price, or get a 1 or 2-year subscription that is significantly cheaper.

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Old 03-17-2010, 06:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leebase View Post
Paid and "internet" haven't gone over very well.
Unfortunately, advertising-based websites aren't working either. The ad revenue is insufficient to support the businesses, which is why they are generally tanking, and both Murdoch and the NY Times are planning to put up paywalls.

I'd imagine that the magazine apps will be good for offline reading, better layout and design, more interaction, zooming on images, changing text size. Whether that will be sufficient to encourage people to buy them, that I don't know. You've had years of people expecting the magazines for free, and a device with a mobile browser.

I suspect magazines that do actual reporting, rather than opinion and commentary (which is relatively cheap), will have to put up paywalls or go out of business.
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Old 03-17-2010, 06:43 PM   #8
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Unfortunately, advertising-based websites aren't working either. The ad revenue is insufficient to support the businesses, which is why they are generally tanking, and both Murdoch and the NY Times are planning to put up paywalls.
I'm not sure I completely agree with that, although there are definitely some that are not doing too good (in either camp). The polls seem to indicate that the pay walls are going to fail big time, but only time can tell. I suspect too many people think they really know what's good for the rest of us...

The internet model is putting a new twist on media, those that suscribe to the old models probably will fail, but new venues can possibly support the "new" magazines of the future. Instead of monthly "commentary", you might see more of weekly or daily "blogs", for example. Timely reviews and in-depth news get my attention, usually the magazines of past are so out-of-date they are not even worth reading. Throw internet anywhere, like the ipad can possibly do, instead of our present smartphones, and there's no telling what's going to happen. I think you are premature in predicting what's going to happen with media in the next few years.
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Old 03-17-2010, 10:10 PM   #9
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I'm not sure I completely agree with that, although there are definitely some that are not doing too good (in either camp).
Yes, that would be the overwhelming majority of magazines. Unfortunately they are getting creamed. Ad revenues down by 17% in 2009, newsstands sales are down 9%, the number of people working at newspapers is literally down to 1950's levels, and Internet ads are not making up for the other losses....




Quote:
Originally Posted by vaughanmr
The polls seem to indicate that the pay walls are going to fail big time, but only time can tell. I suspect too many people think they really know what's good for the rest of us.
Well, think of it this way. There is a certain unknown number at which lower circulation, but higher revenues per reader, is going to generate more revenues overall for the periodical. The key question is whether a magazine like GQ, for example, can hit that number after putting up a paywall. It's also possible that demographics will skew towards a more affluent group, thus balancing out some of the raw numerical reductions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vaughnmr
Instead of monthly "commentary", you might see more of weekly or daily "blogs", for example.
Blogs are mostly commentary and opinion; afaik there is very little true investigative journalism, or routine coverage of the nuts and bolts of government and economics, done by blogs. I.e. it's relatively cheap to run a a blog, and very expensive to hire a roster of professional journalists who assemble all the information the bloggers bloviate about. This doesn't mean blogs are "bad," only that they are not a viable substitute for actual reporting.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vaughnmr
I think you are premature in predicting what's going to happen with media in the next few years.
Yes, that is entirely possible. But the same for anyone who dares to issue predictions. And I don't mind being wrong, probably because it's such a rare occurrence.

I will agree there may be other models, but my understanding is that the free web thing just isn't working. Periodicals just cannot raise enough revenue via web ads to provide the type of articles as they do now. They're already giving away the product for free, and most forms of additional marketing or increasing the frequency of publication costs money; so whatever change comes about is likely to involve extracting money and information directly from the readers.
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Marseilles View Post
I'm eager to get back into reading magazines, but I refuse to do so until I can own what I subscribe to. A lot of digital subscriptions are online only, but I want the file within my control and in a format that's not too tied down.

I'd love to read Scientific American and Popsci and Wired again, but I've yet to see a model for distribution that I'm okay with. And I'm done with paper subscriptions piling up, so while they dilly dally around trying to figure out how to deliver and protect their content, they're just losing my money. I'll be amazed if they ever come up with something I'm willing to put up with.
You should check out zinio. You can read online or download. though you do have to use their reader as the download is a proprietary format - but so long as you have the software you can read it.

At 8 bucks for a year of Car & Driver, I'll forgive them for not being a more open file format.

They even have an iphone app. Kinda challenging reading on the iphone, but there is some nice functionality to make it manageable, but man, if they come out with an ipad app. Awesome.
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:45 PM   #11
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The iPad and other slates are supposed to user in a new revenue stream for magazine publishers. As I await my iPad, I got to thinking about what would entice me to pay for a magazine app/subscription verses just going to their website for free.

Even if the magazine app is nicer, more interactive etc. -- would I pay for it if I could get the same content as the stuff they put on the web for free? I doubt it. So what would I pay for?

A good and interesting app is just the start. I certainly plan on subscribing to Wired just for the experience of their cutting edge app. But that's not going to fly for long.

Back content. I'd subscribe to a photography magazine if I could also have access to the back issues. I'd hope for not just links to back issues, but integrated search to help find, say, a particular tutorial that was published in a back issue.

Combined print/digital subscription. I surely don't want to have to pay for a magazine and then pay AGAIN for access online. I might be willing to pay a _bit_ more for a combined subscription. I surely expect that whatever online goodies they have on their website, I'd get access to if I subscribed to their magazine app.

What say you?

Lee
Wizards of the Coast is the company that produces the game Dungons and Dragons and is a part of Hasbro. They have two magazines that they publish each month electronicaly. As long as you subscribe, you get to see your old copies. If you don't subscribe, you can't.
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Old 03-26-2010, 03:38 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by scveteran View Post
Wizards of the Coast is the company that produces the game Dungons and Dragons and is a part of Hasbro. They have two magazines that they publish each month electronicaly. As long as you subscribe, you get to see your old copies. If you don't subscribe, you can't.
Compare that with Steve Jackson Games, who publish their house RPG magazine monthly as a pdf. You can buy individual issues or subscribe for a discount. You get to keep what you buy forever, and can access your old copies online as long as they stay in business, regardless of whether you've let your subscription lapse.

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Old 03-26-2010, 04:23 AM   #13
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Hi,

I haven't followed the online magazine developments, but there does seem to be an opportunity to split the content up and offer it in smaller chunks. Rather like buying single mp3 music track instead of having to shell out for the whole physical album.


I have an idea that Choice magazine does something like this. You could buy the monthly magazine, but it may not be reviewing anything that interests you. However, you can now go to their website, read an introduction and then buy the rest of the test results just for the items you're interest in. Does anybody else operate like that? If selling in smaller amounts works for music (which you can also hear free over the radio, via youtube and so on) I can't really see why it wouldn't work for other content if it was packaged and marketed properly.

Many things could be done pretty much the same way - an index of material on offer with a free sample read of, say 20% of the article. I don't buy paper magazines any more because they rarely have more than 10% content that I want to read. But a pay per article system might well appeal.
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Old 03-26-2010, 01:57 PM   #14
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I've heard of a few periodical sites that have sold individual articles. Though it seemed pretty expensive at the time, I don't see why that sales plan wouldn't work.

I too expect online magazines to cut back on the free content, and create subscriptions to access the rest (and likely per-issue and per-article prices, too). "Internet," "payments" and "subscriptions" do have a well-established history... it's just that most of it has been in high-end business, and specialty interests (like porn).

Software went through a similar pattern, ignoring the middle-ground consumer and giving content away, then finding ways to encroach payments into the middle end market as well (Microsoft and Adobe products being among the best examples). If digital magazines manage to create a strong market out of a compelling product (and they may have to exercise a bit more control over undesired content sharing and infringement), they too could encroach charges into the mid-consumer market.
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Old 03-26-2010, 04:27 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
Unfortunately, advertising-based websites aren't working either. The ad revenue is insufficient to support the businesses, which is why they are generally tanking, and both Murdoch and the NY Times are planning to put up paywalls.
No, they're planning to put up paywalls because they believe they can make more money that way. They are not financial disasters, unlike many magazines which are in trouble.

Steve - Oh, you mean a new new war on drugs unauthorised copying. Woo! That works SO well for existing content doesn't it. It's a concept which can only work by stomping on citizen reporting and journalism. Want to bet on if they're going to try that?

And software is actually increasingly bringing high end tools for cheap/free to private users, precisely so they can increase corporate sales. Many companies are smart enough to realise that the explosive growth of net access is over and how to compete in a saturated market.

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