Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

10/26/2013

IDEAlliance (The International Digital Enterprise Alliance) Seeks Standardization for Mobile Magazine Publishing


IDEAllianceStandardization, or an open format, that allows publishing across all mobile formats with one application at the same time has been achieved (pretty much) for book publishing in the ePub specification.

But, one does not yet exist for the more difficult magazine publishing — more difficult due to a magazines demand for more imagery, graphics, layout, etc.

Why all this attention to mobile publishing? Simply because tablets, e-readers and iPads are replacing desktop computers as the consumer’s choice to access content.

The IDEAlliance is working with players throughout the supply chain to standardize tablet edition formats to simplify the process of tablet issue production by eliminating many of the competing formats and workflows.

The following details are from FOLIO magazine:

Cutting Through the Mire of Tablet Issue Production

“Each publisher has approached tablets at its own pace, with its own purpose. The result has left a scattered set of protocols across the industry.

The goal is an industry standard called OpenEFT — guidelines to direct the packaging, delivery and display of digital magazines for everyone in the ecosystem. OpenEFT’s final draft was unveiled late last month.

“We, as publishers, would like to be able to provide a designed-for-tablet, interactive edition to all the newsstands,” says Sean Keefe, executive director of publishing technology for Hearst Magazines. “But right now, not all of them take the same file formats.” 

The benefits for publishers are twofold. Tablet issue production would become a more efficient process, while the barriers to third-party innovation would be lowered.

Tablet issue production is currently convoluted. Hearst currently produces up to three formats (and several variants) of its magazines, depending on the brand and the newsstand they’re working with; Next Issue Media, a digital newsstand, is forced to adapt about six formats for its storefront. Many of those conversions are labor intensive and require quality assurance testing at multiple points.

Ideally, says Keith Barraclough, CTO and vice president of products for Next Edition, the exchange of files would be simplified, QA would only be needed once and the process would be automated.

“Whether OpenEFT can do all this as it goes through its standardization process and tools and manufacturers come along and adopt, that’s all a big ‘TBD’,” he says. “But hat’s the nirvana we’re looking for.”

An open specification already exists, called ePub, but it was built to handle books, not magazines.

“The orientation toward imagery, layout and the subtlety of the navigation of a magazine is something that’s evolved more,” Barraclough says.

While Dianne Kennedy, vice president of emerging technologies for IDEAlliance, says OpenEFT is closely modeled after ePub, she adds that the need for tablet-optimized ad units is another major reason the book-centric format needed to be tweaked for digital magazines.

Magazine staff have to manipulate the units from the agency, often without being exactly sure of how the final product was supposed to render. The costs and confusion make their use rare.

“Magazines, unlike books, rely a lot on the ad model,” Kennedy says. “There is no specification for the exchange and rendering of this interactive content, so the magazines have been limiting the number of interactive ads they will accept.”

Regardless of how or why they started with tablet editions, publishers will agree that improving production efficiency is beneficial.

Now, it’s up to them to adopt the standard.”

OpenEFT Design Principles

Here are a few of OpenEFT’s 13 design principles:

– Must be based on industry standards

– Must not cause major disruption to existing tablet publishing workflows

– Must support enhancement types that are common across 2013 tablet editions

– Must consider the advertizing workflow and integration of advertizing

– Should be designed so that highly-designed publications, other than magazines, can adopt this format

– Must design for the future by embracing emerging technologies

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06/24/2013

Publishing: Going Digital-Only is Like Ripping Off a Band-Aid :(


Ripping off the band-aid can make an owie

OUCH! You know that’s the reaction when you rip off a long-in-place band-aid. Well, that emotional reaction applies in publishing — especially in repetitive, fast-paced, rapid-fire publishing like weekly or monthly magazines — when they make the big strategic decision to drop print altogether and go totally digital.

It’s scary! But, many are being driven to this decision due to the declining print ad revenue. AND, more than this, the advertisers/investors are demanding more ROI (return on investment) metrics. You can ONLY get this kind of reader-tracking analytics and metrics through digitally informed processes that drill down and tell advertisers such things as who read the ads, what they liked, what they bought, when they bought, the last time they bought, when they made love last (ha, a little humor), etc.

“Going digital-only is fraught with a variety of strategic leaps of faith, but when the dust settles a more efficient model can emerge that’s free of print legacy encumbrances.” – Bill Mickey, Editor FOLIO: Magazine.

Digital-only is probably more appropriate for only some types of magazines; like academic journals, educational and scientific mags, etc. Why? These magazines’ audiences are more advanced in the digital world and that’s the world  they work, read and play more and more.

More from Bill Mickey in this article for FOLIO: magazine:

Ripping Off the Band-Aid

Behind 1105 Media’s decision to take the Education Group digital-only

When a print magazine transitions to digital-only, the idea that it’s a knee-jerk, last-ditch effort to keep a dying brand alive is not unique to media industry navel-gazers. A brand’s audience can smell it a mile away, too. However, there are many times when this strategy makes sense, and even renews a formerly print-focused brand with a host of new opportunities—provided its owners can pull the trigger on some tough strategic decisions along the way.

At 1105 Media, the Education Group, which consists of two main brands T.H.E. Journal and Campus Technology, went all-digital in August 2012. Prior to that decision, the group was publishing the two print, monthly qualified-circulation magazines serving technology professionals in the K-12 and higher education markets. Both had long histories in print—T.H.E. Journal launched in 1972 by the father of its current publisher Wendy LaDuke and Campus Technology had been in print as a magazine for over twenty years, and a print newsletter before that.

But the decision to put that print legacy behind them was triggered by a confluence of what’s become a common pairing of market forces: A decline in print advertising and a rise in advertiser demand for digitally-informed ROI metrics.

Data Accountability
“We made the decision to go digital in part because that’s where our readership lives (they are technology advocates and decision-makers within their work spheres) and in part because print advertising—at least in our market—is clearly a dying animal,” says Therese Mageau, the education group’s editorial director. “Advertisers are looking at ROI and asking for evidence of effectiveness—you can’t give them that with print. The truth is, we could do all the reader surveys we wanted, but we didn’t really know [specifically] who was reading our magazines and if any of them were actually looking at the ads.”

Nevertheless, when the group decided to, as Mageau put it, rip the band-aid off last summer, it immediately began recognizing benefits in production, audience make-up and engagement metrics. There were, however, challenges introduced that still heckle the ongoing strategy.

But even before that, market indicators were trending toward an advertising community that was looking for more ROI data on marketing spend—data that display advertising in print couldn’t support.

“For a while now, from the advertisers point of view, it’s become increasingly challenging for them to prove any kind of ROI on advertising,” says LaDuke. “Since marketers are under so much pressure to show a good return on their marketing spending, it was becoming very problematic to provide that from a print perspective.”

The Writing is on the Wall
At that point, the Education Group decided that rather than continue to try to protect print from what they viewed as a gradual but unavoidable long-term decline, they would go after what their market was telling them it wanted.

Read and learn more

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10/18/2012

Most Magazines to Begin Going Digital-Only by the End of the Decade


Newsweek – Going Digital-Only AND Global

At least that is what publishing industry ‘watchers’ predict.

One early indicator of this transformation: Newsweek magazine is going digital-only at the end of this year and be renamed Newsweek Global. (I still don’t think print mags will disappear completely – they’ve had too much of a renewed growth and popularity – due, incidentally, to digital growth).

But, it’s the ‘going global’ thing with Newsweek — and how they’ve set it up — that I think is interesting.

TJ Raphael reports this in FOLIO magazine:

Newsweek To Cease Print Publication in 2013

Rebranded in a digital-only format called Newsweek Global.

Earlier this week at the American Magazine Conference, industry watchers speculated that most magazines will begin going digital-only by the end of the decade—that prediction seems to be coming to fruition sooner than expected, starting with today’s announcement that Newsweekmagazine will cease its print publication by the end of 2012.

After 80 years in print, the magazine will transition to an all-digital format, renaming itself Newsweek Global, and will become a single, worldwide edition targeted for a mobile audience. Newsweek has an Asian edition; a Business Plus edition; an edition for Latin America; Europe, the Middle East and Africa in addition to its U.S. publication, all of which will be consolidated into Newsweek Global.

A statement from the Newsweek/Daily Beast Company, signed by editor-in-chief Tina Brown and CEO Baba Shetty, says that Newsweek Global will be supported by paid subscription and will be available through e-readers for both tablet and the Web, with select content available on The Daily Beast.

“Regrettably we anticipate staff reductions and the streamlining of our editorial and business operations both here in the United States and internationally,” says an internal memo posted on the company’s Tumblr page. “More details on the new organizational structure will be shared individually in the coming weeks and months.”

According to the most recent Fas-Fax from the Audit Bureau of Circulations for the period ending June 30, 2012, Newsweek saw a 9.7 percent year-over-year drop in the number of single copies sold at retail, with total paid, verified and analyzed non-paid circulation dropping by 0.2 percent. In the last three years, its total paid and verified circulation has gone from 2,646,613 to 1,527,157, with single copies going from 64,866 to 42,065 during the same period. Ad pages, however, have been up by 2.5 percent year-to-date, according to Min Box Score numbers.

Read and learn more

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07/10/2012

A Disregard for Intellectual Property Among the Younger Generation? Prevalent Piracy


Give me your content, Mate!

The digital highways and byways are becoming more and more crowded with mobile devices. These wonderful little gadgets are a boon to publishers in providing multiple avenues to get their content out in front of more readers/consumers. 

The mobiles also bring a downside, however — increased piracy! Seems these little devils, multiplying like horny energizer bunnies, are hard to police. ‘It’s easy for thieves to digitally swipe magazine issues and post to BitTorrent sites.’

You ask, “What the hell is a Bit Torrent site?” [I had to ask that question :)] Well, here is the definition link .

Lucia Moses provides some insight into how digital magazines are being ripped off through their mobile apps in this piece for Adweek

Publishers’ Online Headache

With tablets come opportunity, but also online piracy

With mobile devices, magazines have more ways than ever to distribute their content—and more ways of getting ripped off.

Like the music and movie businesses before them, magazines are getting their own taste of piracy with the spread of tablets and handheld mobile devices. It’s easy for thieves to digitally swipe magazine issues and post to BitTorrent sites.

Publishers say piracy is concentrated overseas where no sooner do they get a site shut down than another one pops up in its place. And with all the focus on distributing their content as widely as possible, they don’t really know the scope of the problem or what it’s costing them in lost sales.

“[It’s] a real problem for the future as we get a lot more of these devices out there and it becomes harder to police it,” said Declan Moore, president of publishing and digital media for the National Geographic Society. “There is a general concern that, among the younger generation, there is a disregard for intellectual property.”

With just a few keystrokes, he found an online search engine offering a full year’s worth of interactive Nat Geos (as well as what appeared to be a liberal selection of soft porn). “That’s not authorized, I’m pretty sure,” he said.

Dan Lagani, president of Reader’s Digest North America, said the pirated editions of Reader’s Digest that he sees tend to be lower-resolution and lack the interactivity that the magazine has built into its iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook versions. “It’s not the same consumer experience.”

Read and learn more

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06/23/2012

Print vs Digital magazine Format – Intriguing Decision


SmartMoney Mag – Going Digital Only ?

An intriguing decision, indeed, and this post looks into insiders’ analytical thinking and number crunching.

This post also peeks inside who’s who (and was) in the News Corp, Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal, Smart Money and Market Watch  hierarchy.

Smart Money, one of the largest monthly personal-finance magazines with a circulation of 813,730 last year, is going to cut its print version beginning in October, 2012, and expand its digital platform.

Why ? Well, the thinking, reasoning and data supporting that decision is explored by John Jannarone And WilliamLaunder in the Wall Street Journal:

SmartMoney Will Move to Web-Only Magazine 

Dow Jones & Co. said Thursday it will stop publishing the print version of SmartMoney, although it will expand the personal-finance magazine’s digital platform.

Dow Jones, a unit of News Corp., which also publishes The Wall Street
Journal, said it would add six new positions to SmartMoney.com’s editorial staff but eliminate 25 jobs related to the print edition production. The last issue of the monthly magazine will be September’s, available on Aug. 14.

“It’s clear that the volatility of markets and asset classes has increased the need for rapid delivery of personal finance intelligence, so we will be expanding our team and presence on the Web,” said Robert Thomson, editor in chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.

SmartMoney is among the largest monthly personal-finance magazines, with a circulation of 813,730 last year, compared with 818,526 in 2007, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Rival magazine Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has a circulation of about 628,000 and Money has roughly 1.9 million readers, the ABC says. All three magazines have struggled to increase circulation in recent years.

The decision to halt publication of SmartMoney is one of the first major changes at Dow Jones since the arrival in February of Lex Fenwick as chief executive. In 2010, Dow Jones acquired from Hearst Corp. the 50% interest in SmartMoney it didn’t already own. Hearst and Dow Jones jointly launched SmartMoney in 1992.

More changes appear to be in store at Dow Jones. In an internal memo to employees Thursday, Mr. Thomson said there are other “just-approved expansion plans” for The Wall Street Journal but didn’t provide any specifics. Earlier this week, Dow Jones announced a reorganization of management and the resignation of Todd Larsen from his role as president.

Dow Jones said all content and tools from SmartMoney.com will become available on a new co-branded personal finance section on its MarketWatch.com financial-information site . In May, MarketWatch.com had 5.3 million unique visitors, up 50% from the same month of 2011. SmartMoney.com’s unique visitor count has increased 14% over the same period to 1.6 million people.

Write to John Jannarone at john.jannarone@wsj.com and William Launder at william.launder@dowjones.com

 

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04/12/2012

Publishing’s Next Gold Strike: The Emerging App Market


Emerging World of Apps !

Tonight’s post is a bit technical, but, by reading it, maybe we can pick up some insight by osmosis.

First, some definitions to help clarify:

API – Stands for Application Program Interface. It is a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing a Web-based software application or Web tool. A software company releases its API to the public so that other software developers can design products that are powered by its service — For example, Amazon.com released its API so that Web site developers could more easily access Amazon’s product information. Using the Amazon API, a third party Web site can post direct links to Amazon products with updated prices and an option to “buy now.” More detail and another example here.

HTML5 –  The latest and greatest programming language that is device-agnostic and can be used across all mobile formats/platforms. This is also important for ebook publishers to understand so when they want to publish to all mobiles with just one format they can find a service that employs HTML5. See “What exactly is HTML5?” for more accurate detail, I’m sure.

Apps are big business for the tablet and mobile platforms. They provide seamless progression to enhanced functionality for us users of all kind of digital services — such as digital publishing across all tablets and mobiles with just one format.

Magazine publishing leads the way in employing apps, but understanding there emerging use will also benefit all publishers including indie publishers 🙂

Bill Mickey, Editor of FOLIO magazine, explains it better than I ever could:

The APP Market: Models Are Emerging, But Which To Choose

As the tablet and mobile markets evolve, publishers consider their pricing and distribution options.

Read and learn more 

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11/30/2011

Digital Magazines – The 2011 Stats


The tablet age (along with some other mobiles) is only about a year old … But, there have been digital editions for over a decade (and I didn’t realize that!). At any rate, the blossoming digital publishing age did come along at a time when print mags were sliding. And from all indications digital editions have revived the magazine industry … even pumping up their print sisters in some cases 🙂

Now, let’s get into some business performance numbers for 2011 RE this rather new industry … provided by Matt Kinsman, Executive Editor of FOLIO magazine

The State of the Digital Edition Industry in 2011

Publisher satisfaction grows but monetization continues to frustrate.

We’re only about a year into the tablet age but more than a decade of using digital editions. Today, with the rise of ever increasingly sophisticated mobile devices and apps, digital editions are poised to leap to the forefront of publishers’ revenue generation plans and serve as their flagship on devices such as the iPad.

But are they able to deliver? Nxtbook Media recently wrapped its 2011 State of the Digital Edition survey, which looked at audience development and revenue growth, as well as where mobile fits in.

The good news? Publishers on both the consumer and b-to-b sides are more satisfied with their digital editions than last year when Nxtbook first conducted the survey. However, there is some growing frustration as publishers continue with how to actually monetize digital editions.

Satisfaction Up by 40 Percent

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they are satisfied with their digital edition (12 percent are “quite satisfied” while 37 percent are “somewhat satisfied”), up 40 percent from 2010. “Publishers this year are more optimistic and they’re also more decisive than last year,” says Nxtbook marketing director Marcus Grimm.

However, while publishers are realizing digital editions have great potential for growing audience, they aren’t sure how to do so. Sixty-four percent of respondents say they are confident there are many more readers out there but they don’t know how to reach them (up from 59.3 percent who said the same last year). “That speaks to the youth of our audiences,” says Grimm. “Publishers are trying lots of things; we know readers are out there, but we’re not cracking the code. The iTunes store brought us to a totally different place—every time we think we have this space figured out, it changes.”

Just 21 percent of respondents said they know there are more digital magazine readers out there and they know how to reach them.

Still, Grimm advises publishers should strive for 15 percent of their readership to come from digital editions at this stage. “If you can get to that, it’s a vibrant number,” he adds. “It’s a large enough number that your advertisers will care about.”

Advertising Satisfaction

Publishers are less satisfied with digital editions as an advertising tool than as an audience tool. Just 29 percent of publishers say they are very or somewhat dissatisfied with the advertising revenue of their digital editions, about the same as last year.
However, the satisfaction gap between b-to-b publishers (Nxtbook’s main clientele) and consumer publishers shrank over the past year.

“The iTunes store has helped b-to-b pubs a lot and specialty optimized magazines are helping with sponsorship,” says Grimm. “Advertisers are getting excited about new optimized magazines.”

Still, just 12 percent of respondents say they have a firm handle on how to generate money with digital magazines. Sixty-one percent of respondents say their digital magazine can be a revenue generator but are unsure how to get to the next level.

Perhaps most troubling, the number of respondents who say they’ve tried many ways to make money with digital editions and are fairly convinced they can’t nearly doubled from last year to 8 percent.

Read and learn more

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11/21/2011

Inside Digital Magazines – And Some Business Numbers


Digital Magazines Gain Popularity

Digital magazines are taking off somewhat according to a survey by the Association of Magazine Media. And the various digital formats have a long tail, it seems … actually increasing the circulation of the print formats as well (see my post https://gator1965.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/printed-magazines-young-adult-readership-up-90-prefer-ink-format/). 

Could it be that folks with the new digital gadgets try the digital versions of mags they never have read before and like them well enough to subscribe to or buy the print counterparts?

Another interesting concept, not available yet but in the offing, is the ability for readers of digital mags to buy direct from the digital ads. 

Read this telling article by Jacqui Cheng of Wired.com (Epicenter Blog):

People Actually Read Digital Magazines (And They’re Ready To Buy)

The publishing industry is still feeling out ways to take advantage of new digital formats. Plenty of traditional magazine subscribers have declared that they still prefer old fashioned print, but a group of brave souls has slowly grown in number since the iPad was introduced in 2010: those who read magazines on tablets. Whether the general public loves them or hates them is still up for grabs, but according to a newly published survey conducted by the Association of Magazine Media (MPA–long story), those who already read magazines on tablets are really getting into them, with some suggestions on how to improve.

The MPA surveyed 1,009 adult digital magazine readers on their use habits, with a whopping 90 percent claiming to read as much or more magazine content than they did before acquiring a tablet, with two-thirds saying they plan to consume even more magazines now that they can do so digitally. But it seems that most prefer the newsstand-style subscriptions (that is, an area to retrieve their new content all in the same place) — 76 percent of survey respondents said they preferred this route to individual apps. And more than half, 55 percent, said they like to be able to read digital back issues of their favorite magazines.

 

These users have a handful of requests that are not widely implemented among digital magazines, however, including the ability to buy products directly from editorial features (70 percent) and the ability to buy directly from digital ads (59 percent). Frankly it’s surprising this isn’t already commonplace—ads do exist to sell products, after all—but we’re guessing this is partly due to the fact that most magazines are still porting over their print issues instead of working to create digital versions from scratch.

Read and learn more

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07/12/2011

Tablet, E-Reader Addicts Also Want Print


Printed Books Still Desired

This is not surprising to me at all … I have posted many times RE the NON-demise of the printed word.

John’s Note: I tried to link to all past posts on ‘printed word’ or ‘print’ but WordPress is giving me trouble tonight! Just go to the “search this site button” at top of this page and enter ‘print’ for my past discussions. 

Oh, the printed word has definitely gone through changes … but, think about it … these changes were brought about by what? Why, the ‘printed’ word itself, of course … only in a different format (digital), that’s all.

A study on this very issue is presented in an article for FOLIO Magazine by Executive Editor Matt Kinsman:

Study Says Tablet, E-Reader Users Haven’t Given Up Print

Few magazine apps in the App Store don’t have at least one reviewer clamoring for a subscription package that bundles print and app, and now a new study from GfK MRI suggests that rather than abandoning old media, tablet and e-reader users might still be print’s best audience.

John’s Note: By the way GfK means ‘Growth from Knowledge’ and MRI means ‘Mediamark Research and Intelligence’

According to the study, tablet owners are 66 percent more likely than the average U.S. adult to be heavy users of printed versions of magazines, while e-reader owners are 23 percent more likely to be heavy print users.

The study also says men are more likely to own tablets while women are more likely to own e-readers (although I still dig my Kindle and I’ll arm-wrestle anyone at GfK MRI or Yudu who makes fun of me).

Read and learn more

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04/26/2011

Rebirthing of Magazine Publishing


Side slider touchscreen smartphone

After barreling to the very edge of magazine extinction AND balancing on the tipping point… the magazine publishing world has been pulled back and dropped into greener revenue fields.

What brought this about? The rise of mobile apps for smartphones and tablets! That’s what…

Excerpt from feature source: “The rise of mobile apps for smartphones and tablets is generating  an excitement in the world of magazine publishing that hasn’t been seen in years. The potential of reviving storied brands and creating new revenue streams in a brand new, yet somehow familiar medium is tremendous. Still, these are the early days. The publishing industry has a long way to go before it figures out how to harness these new capabilities. In the meantime, both large and small publishers are already seeing their business transform.”  

Get the details from this FOLIO magazine Special Report presented on a great digital app powered by Nxtbook 

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