Publishers shouldn’t bury their heads in the sand…

I found an  interesting article on how Magazines and Newspapers are responding to the iPad and Apple’s revenue sharing model on Ars Technica. Reading this article got me to reconsider how I view what their position on the impact of the iPad should be.

To me it always seemed obvious that publishers of magazines and newspapers should welcome and embrace a device which might help regain relevance to their properties, but it seems that they don’t agree.

While I sympathize with publisher’s need to have information about who they sell to, I can’t see that the fact that Apple doesn’t share information from it’s AppStore (and probably iBookStore)  as an impediment.  Generally speaking, at least for starters, as a publisher I would not really be thinking of using Apple’s e-reading software to present my magazine or newspaper.  I would go with a custom application which would allow me the freedom to create the experience I feel has a better chance to entice readers to a subscription.

I use eReader from FictionWise (now a Barnes & Noble company) on my iPod.  As soon as I first loaded my application and entered my FictionWise account information it downloaded my online bookshelf to  my device.  All those books are now available on the iPod Touch and none of them were purchased through Apple.

Publishers, specially companies with multiple properties which can share the cost of development among them, should be thinking of creating a great reading experience.  What publishers ought to be thinking of is of creating an and visually appealing  easy way for people to find they information they want fast and then drill down into more in-depth background information if they need or want it.

Whoever thinks that the iPad is a fad, that will soon fade away and that it will be business as usual for the publishing industry, might as well give up right now.  Magazines, especially, which have a longer cycle than newspapers can really provide much more material and background on stories, but newspapers can also provide more material.  Where you can only fit one picture for a story on a printed paper, in digital form you could provide a gallery with half a dozen pictures.

The publishing industry will be reshaped by the iPad, whether a company will see this as an opportunity and join in, or decide to bury its head in the sand and be left behind is up its executives.  On the other hand, if I were a stockholder of one of these companies I would be looking at how my executives are reacting, pretty closely.

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