Thought Leadership

October 30, 2009

Major Publishers Investing in E-Readers


Many print publishers have turned to the digital world as a way to stem falling circulations and advertising revenue hardships. Most have Web pages, but many are directing significant energy toward devices like the iPhone or the iPod touch in an attempt to garner a digital fan base of E-Readers. Magazines such as Elle, SPIN and Car & Driver all have iPhone applications available. And according to AdAge, Conde Nast recently announced the upcoming launch of their iPhone application for GQ.


So what’s so special about the GQ app? Unlike other magazine applications, which often exclude stories that are in the print version (including much of the significant editorial content), the GQ app will offer a full replica of the magazine. For $2.99 per issue, users will be able to see every page as it appears in print with all of the content modified for the small screen. As a result, people who pay for the app will count toward GQ’s paid circulation by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.


Why is this important to the publishing industry? Advertisers only want to pay for ad space in issues that the Audit Bureau of Circulations defines as paid, so the number of apps sold would help boost dwindling circulation numbers. Another interesting twist: Conde Nast wants the digitized versions of its magazines to command print ad rates, not the lower rates required for online ads.


As an iPhone user and avid GQ reader, I fall into the target market for this product. Provided the app is well designed – meaning easy to navigate and read – I think this is a great idea and digital exploration like this should be encouraged. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having a magazine in hand and flipping through the pages (call me old fashioned), but I think there are a number of benefits to this.


For one, the app is always available to you. With a few simple clicks, you can read from anywhere and archive and retrieve for future reference. Second, with no paper, ink or chemicals, digital magazines are much more eco-friendly. Obviously, saving money doesn’t hurt. The app cost $2.99 an issue, whereas a print version cost $3.99.


As for Conde Nast, I think this app is a unique opportunity for them to test the waters of digital revenue beyond what’s been done. With recent layoffs and several magazine closings, I think this is a step in the right direction.


The GQ app is timed with the newsstand release of the December issue and scheduled to debut in mid-November. I’ll be sure to download the app when it comes out. Whether I’ll make the switch to digital magazines entirely, depends on how well the app is designed.

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