Print in The Age of The iPad

Time Magazine on Apple's iPad

It’s an understatement to say that May 2010 was a big month for the publishing industry.

Even before it’s hotly anticipated arrival in stores nationwide in early April, chances are you had at least heard of the iPad. Launching internationally in May with both Wi-Fi and 3G + Wi-Fi versions available, this device is without a doubt going to change the way consumers, developers and publishers view the digital publication or “e-zine”.

The iPad offers publishers a chance to come up with enhanced e-books that contain images, links, background material, embedded audio and even video (Priya Ganapati, Wired Magazine). Not only is it changing the face of many well-known publications, it also offers unique new ways for advertisers to reach out to their customer base – and larger players are quickly jumping on the bandwagon. FedEx, for example, has a three-month, exclusive advertiser deal for Newsweek iPad apps. Publishers prepared with their own apps stand to make enormous potential profits: Time is charging $200,000 for a single spot in its first eight issues designed for the iPad (Chris Foresman, ARS Technica).

Interestingly, despite the growing popularity of e-readers like the Kindle, Nook and iPad, and the growing demand for apps on these devices, the market for printed publications remains stable. According to Mediamark Research & Intelligence, readership among consumer magazines grew nearly one full percentage point higher over the last year and more than four percent over the past five years. Averaging 300 million paid subscriptions last year, it would be foolish to say that no one reads magazines anymore.

“Clearly, magazines continue to resonate on many levels with consumers, and this is reflected in the enormous trust and value readers have for their favorite magazine titles.” (Jack Griffin, President, Meredith International Media)

The Power of Print Ad

If you’ve flipped through any well-known publication recently, you may have noticed an ad in support of printed magazines themselves. Titled The Power of Print, it’s a $90-million campaign that launched earlier this month (April for weeklies). Headed by media giants Time Inc., Conde Nast, Hearst Meredith Corp. and Wenner Media, The Power of Print campaign aims to convince readers and advertisers alike that print is still as relevant as it’s always been while also preparing readers for the apps that are sure to come on e-readers and other mobile devices.

“Going digital is very important to Time Inc., but I don’t want my clients to believe that no one is reading the printed word.” (Ann Moore, Chief Executive, Time Inc.)

With more devices like the iPad to come, is the death of print closer than we think or will the persistence of publishers at Time and Wenner Media lead to its revitalization? For the time being, it looks like keep on enjoying the best of both worlds.

The Rise of the Digital Publication

Apple iPad

With the growing popularity of e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook and the newly released Apple iPad, magazine publishers are growing increasingly aware of the evolving business case for digital editions. Many are arguing that when marketed properly, digital editions are a viable way to increase overall circulation.

Both the BPA and ABC have defined digital editions in a way that makes them auditable on these new platforms, giving publishers insight into to both growing their circulation and rate base. Many feel that when marketed properly, digital editions are a viable way to increase overall circulation.

“New guidelines allow ABC magazine members to design digital editions that are better suited for the specific distribution device, like the iPad.” (Teresa Perry, SVP, ABC).

When it comes to making a decision on whether to pursue designing and releasing a digital edition suited to one or more of these devices, publishers should consider the readership they’re already missing out on, or what they stand to lose. Due the convenience and immediacy that digital editions and the devices they’re read on afford the reader, many people are beginning to cancel their print subscriptions in favor of their Kindle or iPad subscription.

“Digital is more acceptable to get access. That’s been an area that’s been able to help the digital circulation grow.” (Annette Munroe, Foreign Policy)

It only makes sense that owners of these devices are going to use them to their highest potential, and the opportunity to get rid of that overflowing magazine bin might have been their inspiration to buy one in the first place.

With the case for digital publications growing steadily due to the availability of devices such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad, now might be the time to consider expanding on what you’re currently offering in print.