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Publishers Feeling Their Way in the Digital World

15 Jul 2010

Magazine publishers "continue to throw spaghetti against the iPad and other e-readers trying to see what will stick and what falls to the floor" reports The New York Times.


Most publishers are aggressively experimenting with new electronic devices that could replace their paper-based magazines, newspapers and books and the not-inconsiderable revenue they get from those products.


Some products for digital devices have clearly been more successful than others. The challenge has been to find the right mix of content, design and community that can stand apart from the publishers' content given away on the Web.


Yet some magazine apps are still shy about socialising.

The Wired iPad application includes Wired's storytelling and offers some fun and informative graphics. But it's missing one small thing: the Internet. Readers can't copy and paste links or text, they can't comment on interesting articles with other readers, and they can't instantly post a comment to Twitter or write, share it or "like" it on Facebook.


The new app, seen in the video below, is called Gourmet Live and goes beyond the words and images of a traditional magazine experience and adds a heavy dose of social vernacular along with gaming elements for the reader to explore and unlock new areas of the app.


Sarah Rotman, an analyst with Forrester Research, who specialises in e-readers and the iPad, says that a lot of publishing companies are still feeling their way in the new digital publishing world. "The publishers haven't had much time to get their products ready yet," she said.
She said it isn't that these companies don't want to put social features in; they just haven't had time to move up the learning curve of a new medium. "This is completely new to them," she said.


The Time magazine application, although beautifully designed, doesn't offer the ability to easily share content from within the app either. Time is expected to add those functions on all its digital brands.


"Time does have plans to build-in sharing and commentary in the coming months," a Time spokeswoman told me. She said "the wheel" in the Sports Illustrated app that allows readers to pop up any piece of text and share will be in other Time Inc. applications soon.


Even The Huffington Post, a child of the social media revolution, lets readers post to Twitter and share links. But when the iPad app is offline, it spews out a series of ugly programming errors while trying to share news articles.


The Wired application has also been extremely successful by digital standards. Condé Nast said it had sold 90,000 downloads so far, illustrating that readers are ready to experiment with these new interactive reading experiences, even if they can't share them yet.


Source: The New York Times



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