The future of magazines in a world of slate devices

Yesterday, I blasted those in the world of print media who are holding out hope that today’s Apple announcement will somehow save print.

Read one way, it could appear that I believe the “slate” device will mean the end of print. But longtime readers of this blog — and everyone who knows me — know that is not what I believe.

I am a lover of magazines — but also of all things digital. I believe in a world where magazines and TVs and radios and books and slate devices all find their ways to co-exist in our lives.

New media forces old media to change — it forces what was yesterday’s mass medium, to evolve into something different.

TV didn’t destroy radio — it forced it to change. And slate devices will force books and newspapers and magazines to change.

No, they won’t be the same as they are today. Many types of magazines, books and newspapers will go away.

But the medium of magazines (the print medium I am most familiar with) will live on — and, frankly, will at one end of the long tail, continue to grow as the costs related to on-demand and digital printing falls.

I’ve always felt the web — especially blogs — and magazines are complementary media.

And I believe slate devices will allow organizations and entrepreneurs and anyone with a great idea who can find an audience to discover new ways to interact with them across all media platforms. One of things that will spring forth from those new relationships will be new magazines that appear solely as slate and smart phone “app” and some will find an audience who desire both digital and print expressions of the passion for the topic and brand that evolves from the passion “audience” and “creator” have for one-another.

One of the people I turn to when thinking about the future of magazines (long time readers of this blog will recognize the name) is Derek Pawazek. In post yesterday, he wrote, “Apple could release a device that makes consuming media fun, is able to show any PDF beautifully (just like the iPod would play any MP3), and offers new media for sale in the iTunes store. If they did it right, publishers like me might finally be able to sell something digital that people would actually buy.”

That’s how I feel about slate devices. I am hopeful that, finally, there will be a device that makes it compelling for people to buy something to “play” on it — like the way the Kindle has made it compelling again for me to buy first-novels or obscure books I hear about.

Today, I will start developing media for the new Apple device. (I actually started — conceptually — years ago.)

But I don’t believe the device will be the savior of magazines.

It won’t kill them, either.

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  • See, there's a reason I always refer to you as “Internet smartie” on twitter! Your analysis of the intersection between Apple's new device and old world content players has been — and continues to be — spot on.

    It's important to note that while Steve Jobs unveiled an amazing piece of hardware with cool software and a great price point, he did not announce any innovations to the business of selling content online. The iBook store is just like other ebook stores only with higher prices and a little more control for publishers (in fact, it seems just like the unpopular Scrollmotion app's exact model, really, with a smidge more concession to consumers on pricing). There was no video subscription plan, no new way to pay for digital versions of print products, no iTunes for magazines, no micropayments scheme, no game-changing price cuts on TV clips, no cloud-based sharing of media files across all a person's devices, no iTunes.com etc.

    It's quite possible that these are to come, that negotiations will be finished before the iPad actually arrives. I don't know. But without some creativity and innovation on the business side, I don't think the iPad can save anyone.

  • See, there's a reason I always refer to you as “Internet smartie” on twitter! Your analysis of the intersection between Apple's new device and old world content players has been — and continues to be — spot on.

    It's important to note that while Steve Jobs unveiled an amazing piece of hardware with cool software and a great price point, he did not announce any innovations to the business of selling content online. The iBook store is just like other ebook stores only with higher prices and a little more control for publishers (in fact, it seems just like the unpopular Scrollmotion app's exact model, really, with a smidge more concession to consumers on pricing). There was no video subscription plan, no new way to pay for digital versions of print products, no iTunes for magazines, no micropayments scheme, no game-changing price cuts on TV clips, no cloud-based sharing of media files across all a person's devices, no iTunes.com etc.

    It's quite possible that these are to come, that negotiations will be finished before the iPad actually arrives. I don't know. But without some creativity and innovation on the business side, I don't think the iPad can save anyone.