Monday, October 11, 2010

Publishers Are Migrating Online...

The publishing industry, especially newspapers have been declining for several years.  Their advertising income is down and their world is changing.  They are migrating online, the "paper" newspaper to be an oddity within 5 years.

The newspaper, like the affiliated TV networks, are a model of the past.  In the past, you would have a centralized location where information was sent to consumers.  Since you have many consumers with varied backgrounds and educational levels, you reduce the content to the lowest common denominator.  
I predict we will surpass paperback sales sometime in the next nine to 12 months. Sometime after that, we'll surpass the combination of paperback and hardcover. It stuns me. Jeff Bezos, CEO

Our present generation is one that generally, like McLuhan predicted, does not regard the book as the main source of learning.  They learn from many sources ESPECIALLY visual ones, such as video, movies and pictures.  They also learn from others via social networks.  The print medium is simply going through a transition that began with the advent of television.  All will be visual, all will be on screens or projections.  The minds of younger people are being wired differently than the minds of those who were not exposed to long hours of TV shows or movies.  As we are coming to understand, the brain is not static, it is constantly changing to the stimuli that it gets.  The more it gets of one kind of stimulus the more if wants of the same kind.  This would explain why those who have been used to reading want more reading, while those who have been exposed to visual imagery want more of the same.  This might also explain why paper books and paper newspapers seem out of place or old"fashioned" to many in their 20's now.  All else that surrounds them is digital, interactive and instant.  The paper mediums are static and passive.  This has marked a dramatic shift in education and communications.  This shift is just now starting to be obvious that it can no longer be denied as it once was.  Here is a video done in 2008.  Things are worse now.  

There are several approaches that publishers are envisioning for turning their print media into a digital format.  The first is named "print shovelware" where they try to recreate the page turning experience of a real book.  The second is named "interactive editions" they look like magazines but have more videos and interactivity.  The third is called "motion-heavy mags" which are practically interactive movies co-produced by film makers.  The fourth one is titled "web shells" which are just a way of looking at the same content through a browser without any real change in the experience.  The fifth one is called "live info" it is interactive but comes in immediately as something is happening on a 24 hour news cycle.

What does the consumer want?
A survey was conducted in March of this year by comscore inquiring as which models of tablets and ereaders were of most interest and what they would be used for.  The top purposes they would use the device for was web browsing and then email.  Now it is true that consumers do not really know much about new magazines to know whether they would like it or not.  So they would not be able to choose them as an option.  Here are some videos of the different approaches to online media:

The company Smartview is among a group of companies that are working on this new vision for magazines and books.  Some of the hardware manufacturers are rumored to be offering money through advertising to the magazines and papers in return for an app for their products.
Early adopters of eReading are more likely to see themselves as fashionable, playful, family-focused and kind, as opposed to the technology and leadership orientation of early adopters in prior technological revolutions. Harrison Group Survey 2010

Surveys are pointing to a paradigm shift.  A Harrison Group Survey found that those who own tabletsspend 50% more time reading magazines, 75% more time reading newspapers and 25% more time reading books.  An article in the daily finance states that whenever there is a sharp rise in consumption of newspaper and magazine content there is an equally marked drop in TV viewing.

For newspapers the facts are grim.  They are on a sinking ship.  They HAVE to either make the transition to digital or go out of business.  They have known for years that this financial disaster was coming, but there was no readily available solution for them.  The advent of the iPad has been that opportunity along with the army of tablets that follow the iPad.  These tablets are the last chance for newspapers unless they become subsidized by the government.  This shift will mark a generational turning point for journalist of the old school not familiar with Facebook, Twitter or other social networks.  Technology will not just be a nice feature to have on your resume when seeking employment with newspapers, they will be an essential requirement. Also there is approaching a leveling in regards to large media outlets.  They will no longer control the the distribution of news.  They will be one voice in many independent web based news organizations.  It remains to be seen whether any form of advertising will be able to support large news staffs.  We may revert back to a lot of small journalistic operations.   Look at these charts from a year ago:

As we were writing this article an announcement was made that a veteran and respected reporter for the prestigious Washington Post, Howard Kurtz was leaving the paper to join a relatively new news blog named the Daily Beast.  This shows the dramatic change that is occuring in the news business.  One thing is for certain. The next few years will demonstrate the dramatic impact the Internet has had on our world.

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