Image used with apologies to TUAW for the “enhancements”
With all the negative press and the “it’s not that impressive” comments by supposed techie experts I was beginning to think no one was going to grasp some of the potential something like the iPad has for the future of publishing. However yesterday Michael Grothhaus over at The Unofficial Apple Weblog finally put it together with his story “Where’s the iMag Store?”
Printed book publishing is not going anywhere, even though eBooks may become more and more popular. People still love bookshelves and a book is not (usually) a one time consumed media. Readers will put a book they enjoy on their shelf and take it down to reread it later, loan it to friends, etc.
Magazines and newspapers, on the other hand, are disposable media and that is perfect for something like the iPad to be the method of consumption. You subscribe to a newspaper or magazine via the iMag store, or peruse and buy a single issue. Read it at your leisure, and then either delete it or archive it for future referral. One small device has all your newspapers and magazines on it for easy and enjoyable reading.
The form factor of the iPad can’t be compared to using a laptop, which naysayers keep saying they already can use to read online magazines. If you really think it’s as easy, user friendly and convenient to use a trackpad, horizontal-orientated screen and an HTML based web revision of a magazine as it would be to use an iPad, then you just don’t get it. No awkward little pad moving a tiny mouse about, no heavy, clamshell device with a useless keyboard, no waiting for bootup, no unwieldy navigation… I am talking about a universal format for magazines like the ePub format with true multimedia interaction, easy and intuitive touchscreen navigation, and invisible, while-you-are-sleeping push delivery of your morning paper or monthly issue of your favorite magazines waiting for you when pour your breakfast cereal. No need for a constant internet connection. No need to surf about. It’s all there waiting for you, and using the slim touchscreen pad is a joy.
Likely the magazine industry will not be able to convert their same format to digital and make it work. It will have to become a sort of combo webpage/magazine with updates more than monthly and in smaller bites. They will have to conform to the new technology, but the convenience of push delivery and the ease of consumption should hopefully entice people to pay for the content. The price won’t need to be that much, considering the costs of printing, distributing and mailing the publications will be basically zero.
The key to all this is providing a method of delivery and a reading experience that will get consumers to pay SOMETHING for the content they receive. The mindset that the web should be free needs to be changed. It takes professional talent, skills and credentials to produce professional journalism and entertainment, and these creators need to be able to make a living at it. Web based advertising alone won’t do it. People need to pay something to support those doing the creating. The business model needs a reason for them to do so, and the delivery and consumption experience is the ticket.
So, will MAD ever be an eMag? I hope they will give it a try. The addition of simple animations, sound and interactive content delivered to a device like the iPad might be the trick to introducing MAD to a new generation of readers.
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