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Magazine Publishers Rush for E-Readers

03 Dec 2009

With online newsstands for magazines supposedly just weeks away, magazine publishers are rushing to create new, electronic versions of their titles. Rival publishers Time Inc., Condé Nast, Hearst and Meredith are said to be backing the planned company, which would sell e-reader versions of their titles.


As reported in Mediaweek, Condé Nast last week showed off what an imagined e-reader version of its glossies would look like, starting with Wired. And Time Inc. is developing e-reader versions of such titles as Time and Sports Illustrated; it's expected to introduce those iterations early next year.


The company, which publishes The New Yorker and Wired, said one of the first products to come from the alliance is a magazine application built on the Adobe AIR runtime. Adobe AIR allows the development of content that is deployable on laptops, smart phones and e-readers.

Wired will be the first Condé Nast brand to use the technology.

"This is the next piece of the puzzle for developing our unique magazine content in a digitalized format that will drive the new devices that will hit the market in 2010," Charles H. Townsend, president-CEO of Condé Nast, said in a statement.


But with magazine-friendly e-readers perhaps months away and their audience potential in question, many publishers are using the smaller screen as a test bed.


Digital publishing company Zinio is getting ready to roll out a platform that-like a Condé Nast product that just launched with GQ-will replicate the print magazine on the iPhone.


The iPhone version will be free to existing subscribers of Zinio-powered digital editions and will sync with those versions. Among other features, users of the iPhone version will be able to e-mail articles from the magazine, access the issue straight from the Web and read text-only versions of articles, an option designed for long stories.


Buyers applauded magazines for exploring new digital translations of print. But they also cautioned that audience sizes will be slow to grow. And many questions remain about how big audiences will be and how advertising will be sold and priced.


How ad pricing will be determined still seems unclear. Buyers said e-readers are likely to command higher rates than print because of their video and e-commerce capabilities.



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