Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Traditional Publishers’ Disinterest of Innovative Print Technologies Results in a Slow Death of ‘Print’

Weighing ‘Print’


According to some highly educated and deeply experienced media professionals, traditional publishers are their own worst enemies Re the growing demise of print media. Perhaps TP’s have run away from print too early and not invested in new print technologies that are apparently begging to be expanded upon.

Even the “loss of physical books I can hold in my hand and smell” lamenting has not been enough to instill innovation in the present set of TP management to bring ‘print’ into the 21st century.

Tonight I’m introducing one of those highly educated/experienced personages mentioned above:

Andreas Weber , educated at Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat Mainz (Germany) — And Mainz, if you haven’t already guessed, is where the university’s famous namesake, who invented the first printing press, came from.

Key excerpts from Andreas to whet your appetite:

“However, the modern print-publisher is lacking vision and power for change. Though, over more then a generation ago specific solutions have been approached. Back then, in various places throughout the world, people developed the idea of revolutionising communication with media. IT, Web and print were seen as an integral part of a new communication culture.”

“Digital and analogue media don‘t contradict but build a new intermedia hybrid system.”

“The publishing industry is lacking contemporary ideas and motivation to innovate its core business with print, which is driven by digital communication technologies. Instead, they run behind on development and focus on third parties and their communication channels, which are used by publishers as ‘their new media’ to advertise in the old fashioned way.”

“Even though publishers are present in the digital world via apps and websites there is no innovative progress insight. If Google wouldn‘t bring the traffic and Apple wouldn‘t have given a platform via the iPad there would be no perspective on the subject of ‘digital content by
traditional publishers’.”

“Assuming printing is digital. Print and online are linked and form one unit. The targeted print media production is a just-in-time production. Print media products are created based on automated processes. Printed content will become more relevant, if it is customised to the customer’s request.”

“The publishing industry is lacking contemporary ideas and motivation to innovate its core business with print, which is driven by digital communication technologies.”

Now, this from Andreas Weber in Graphic Repro & Print:

News from Andreas Weber in the Gutenberg Galaxy

It started in Mainz and in Mainz it is supposed to continue. The ‘media.expo 2013’ promised new solutions and innovative tools for the publisher and media industry. The media.expo is one of many exhibitions with mainly the same content and promises for the print and media industry in Germany. The focus lies on speeches, discussions and networking of functional content.

In consideration of the current development of sales the publishing industry needs to wake-up. Even though publishers are present in the digital world via apps and websites there is no innovative progress insight. If Google wouldn‘t bring the traffic and Apple wouldn‘t
have given a platform via the iPad there would be no perspective on the subject of ‘digital content by
traditional publishers’.

Crucial: Publishers don‘t manage or develop their own intermedia communication systems. And they don‘t even use state-of-the-art communication channels in a bi-directional way to create interaction. Maybe they hate Wikipedia and the way Social Media is used by more than a billion of people? — Furthermore, they use a high proportion of their share of sales for the content creation and mostly ignore phenomenons like Twitter, Facebook or Blogs.

What is worse — publishers don‘t invest in their core business ‘print’ any more. An obvious disinterest of innovative print technologies results in a slow death of ‘print’.

But Innovation is the key. Through innovation of the print media products new markets can be entered. Back in the day Gutenberg was aware of this fact and changed the world with print. However, the modern print-publisher is lacking vision and power for change. Though, over more then a generation ago specific solutions have been approached. Back then, in various places throughout the world, people developed the idea of revolutionising communication with media. IT, Web and print were seen as an integral part of a new communication culture. The main drivers of this development were Xerox Corporation and Hewlett-Packard. They anticipated back in the 90s what is now possible: Digital and analogue media don‘t contradict but build a new intermedia hydrid system.

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Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants

Measuring Emotional Response To Media Platforms

Time Inc. has performed a study (a biometric study, no less) that measured, in real time, the emotional responses and attention spans of viewers to content in various platforms: magazines, smartphones, radio, TV, computer, newspaper, tablets.

Guess which platform ranked the highest ?

But first, a little definition time:

Digital Native – Consumers who grew up with mobile and digital technology as part of their everyday lives.

Digital Immigrant – Consumers who encountered and used digital media later in their adult lives.

Biometrics – The process by which a person’s unique physical or emotional traits are detected and recorded by an electronic device or system (e.g. scanning of the human iris in identification or measuring degrees of emotional responses). 

Understanding the results of the viewing patterns, attention spans (and what can hold them) and emotional responses to media content experienced over different platforms can be valuable in successful publishing — Both for ad sponsored, recurring content media AND, by extension, for writing, marketing and selling books.

More detailed analysis by Bill Mickey of Folio magazine’s Audience Development Spring 2012 Report:  

Time Inc. Measures Consumers’ Emotional Response to Media

‘Digital natives’ switch media 27 times per hour, but emotionally tied to mags.

If publishers think they’ve been covering the bases with an anytime, anywhere content strategy, they might be shocked to learn the results of a recent Time Inc. study conducted with Innerscope Research. Digital Natives, defined as consumers who grew up with mobile and digital technology as part of their everyday lives, switch their attention between media platforms an astonishing 27 times per hour.

That was one of the key findings of the study, called “A Biometric Day in the Life,” which used biometric monitoring and point-of-view camera glasses to follow the media habits of 30 individuals during 300 hours’ worth of media consumption. Biometric belts measured their emotional responses to various media platforms and the glasses recorded what platform they were viewing.

The other half of the study group consisted of Digital Immigrants, people who encountered and used digital media in their adult lives, who, predictably, have a more mellow media consumption patterns.

“Technology is shaping so much of how people think about media, use media, combine media,” say Besty Frank, Time Inc.’s chief research and insights officer. “We’ve started to think about all of these changes in the media specifically as they impact the notion of storytelling. We felt that the biometrics would add a new dimension to what we knew about how people use media and what the implications are for how we run our businesses and how we and our clients communicate with consumers.”

The study was particularly interesting, adds Barry Martin, Time Inc.’s executive director of consumer research and insights, because of the ability to record a subject’s emotions as they consumed their media. “We’ve done a lot of biometric work in media labs, but we’ve never been able to do it as they were going about their daily lives,” he says.

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The Transubstantiation of the Printed Word

Physical bookshelf space was a bottleneck … really an inefficient flaw … under the old printed word publishing model. Not only bookshelf space in the bookstores, but also bookshelf space in the homes of buyers with limited space.

There is a solution, albeit one that will be resisted by some.

This by Mark O’Connell in The New Yorker:

The Book Scrappage Scheme

In a panel discussion on the continued rise of e-books at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week, Evan Schnittman of Bloomsbury Publishing made an obvious but nonetheless important point. “Print has an inherent flaw,” he said. “It needs shelf space.” It’s a truth that most readers bump up against at some point, especially those who live in small apartments and have to undertake periodic culls in order to free up space for new acquisitions. A company called 1Dollarscan, however, has come up with a somewhat radical solution to this problem. To bibliophiles, this particular cure might seem worse than the disease, but there’s no denying that it is a practical solution to a practical problem. Here’s how it works: you ship them your books, and they scan and digitize them into fully searchable PDF files before recycling the hard copies (i.e. pulping them). As the company’s name suggests, they charge a dollar for every 100 pages they digitize. The service’s appeal is obvious. You free up shelf space for new books (or for things other than books) and you get to keep the actual text itself, which you can access on a computer, tablet, e-reader, or smartphone.

1Dollarscan is the American outpost of a service called Bookscan that has been running successfully in Japan since last year. (Here’s a video of the process in action; it’s in Japanese, but you’ll get the idea.) Like most of his compatriots, the company’s founder, Yusuke Ohki, inhabits a very small living space. In 2010, he decided that his two thousand or so books were occupying more of his tiny Tokyo apartment than he was willing to put up with. He was also concerned about the prospect of his two young children being buried under an avalanche of paper and toppling shelves in the event of an earthquake. “There were lots of news in Japan that bookshelves were falling over in bookstores,” as he told Forbes, “and that people died after being stampeded by books after huge earthquakes.” He decided to scan his entire library into his iPad before getting rid of all the hard copies. Within months, he was running a company that did something similar for the paying public, and employing a staff of a hundred and twenty to do the scanning and shredding. The company took off partly on account of the Japanese e-book market lagging far behind that of the English-speaking world—murky copyright laws, higher prices, and the technical trickiness of rendering Japanese characters on e-reader screens have all been contributing factors. The fear of collapsing shelves invoked by Ohki has surely spread and intensified since the massive earthquake earlier this year; this, too, will have added to the success of his company. In a recent article on 1Dollarscan, the Economist pointed out that the reason the pages are discarded after scanning has to do with “the ambiguous borders of American copyright law.” When a book is scanned for the first time, the company does not retain a master copy; for copyright reasons, it must treat each copy as a unique item. In other words, every time they get a paperback of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” or “The Da Vinci Code,” they have to go through the entire process anew.

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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).

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Is the Print Party Ending?

Filed under: Digital publishing,print media,print publishing,publishing — gator1965 @ 2:08 pm

I personally don’t feel print media will ever disappear completely and I have said as much previously on this blog…In fact, I believe print will have a rebound attributable, again, to technology. But, more deeply, because there are some things people just want in a more preservable, 3-dimensional format…You know, one you can read when the digital “gadgets” fail for whatever reason.

Marion Maneker, in an article for BNET (The CBS Interactive Business Network), has this take on print media’s demise that he has deduced from three recent occurances in the publishing industry:

Will the Last Book Publisher Please Turn Out the Lights?

We’re reaching the end of the party for print – it’s going to go out with a whimper. We might just have even seen the last flickers of fun go out in three relatively small stories in the New York Times late last week and today. Here’s the list: the announcement that Newsweek’s Howard Fineman is moving to the Huffington Post; a brief profile of a near outsider’s hiring for a plum job in the book business; and the ever-sillier spectacle of the Barnes & Noble (BKS) proxy fight. Taken together, they suggest there’s no turning back.

The most important of the three stories is actually the Barnes & Noble takeover fight. Chairman Len Riggio’s intransigence in the face of forces that want to reform and re-energize the company — even as physical book sales continue to evaporate — make it clear that he is incapable of put the best interest of the company ahead of his own and his family’s interests. Here’s Riggio complaining to the New York Times as his company’s stock has dropped nearly 30%:

“I find it almost repulsive I have to be put in a position to defend myself,” Mr. Riggio said last week in Barnes & Noble’s corporate offices, leaning forward to press his point. […] Barnes & Noble’s new chief executive, William Lynch, is paid $900,000 in salary, while his predecessor, Stephen Riggio, who was also vice chairman, was paid $800,000. Stephen, Mr. Riggio’s younger brother, remains vice chairman and now earns $400,000.

Mr. Riggio — who reduced his salary this year to $100,000 from $300,000 — made no apologies for what he said were necessary costs for hiring good executives. “I’m significantly undercompensated,” he said. “Steve is undercompensated.”

When a controlling shareholder in a company suggests he has to be paid a lot to stay with the firm, you know there’s conceptual disconnect. Riggio’s tortured logic, however, is the least of Barnes & Noble’s problems as a company.

B&N has an interesting history. It transformed the marketplace for books in the era of big box retailing. In the process, B&N added scale and efficiency to the modern publishing industry which in turn allowed publishers to achieve bigger and bigger sales. From the early 1990s, when B&N took the Superstore concept wide — other stores had invented it — until just recently, the sales of the top hardcover titles have increased geometrically.

Where books selling millions of copies was once a generational phenomenon, today it is the norm. Success breeds transformation and the rise of the mega-book attracted new retail outlets like Walmart (WMT), Costco (COST) and Amazon (AMZN) to the book business. These sales channels proved even more efficient — and offered greater discounts — than B&N. They did to the book chains exactly what the chains did to independent stores. Already weakened on that front, and further imperiled by the financial crisis and the damage it has done to all retailing, B&N faced a second front fighting off digital distribution of books.

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Help (understood or not) is on the Way for Print Media

Publishers need to become more committed to understanding the three-dimensional debth of multi-media products and the concepts of light, sound and motion to enhance “printed word” content.

Jim Gaines, editor-in-chief of multimedia magazine FLYPmedia, former managing editor at: People, Time and Life magazines AND corporate editor of Time Inc., discusses this impact topic in the December, 2009 edition of FOLIO magazine:

So far, publishers have demonstrated more fervor than conviction in their attempts to embrace digital innovation. With a few important exceptions—notably The Atlantic—general-interest magazine sites have given themselves over to opinion and aggregation, chasing the headless eyeball and revenue from desolate banner ads while leaving behind all trace of the narrative and design richness of the parent publications.

There is a desperate, shotgun quality to print-digital marriages, as well—like Entertainment Weekly’s “video in print” ad for CBS in September, GQ’s iPhone app in October and Esquire’s experiment with “augmented reality” on the December cover. Popular Science got there first in July, by, as they say, holding up the magazine cover to a computer’s webcam so readers can see “a 3-D landscape dotted with wind turbines popping off the page; by blowing into your computer’s microphone, you can even make the turbines spin faster.”

And as the song goes, you would cry too if it happened to you.

Help is On the Way

Happily, help is on the way, though at first glance, it has a decidedly menacing aspect. Like a hologram, it takes a little squinting to see it for what it is.

The much-rumored whatchamacallit from Apple (iTablet, iPad, whatever) will be just the ancestor of a new world of digital devices whose capabilities are going to lift the greatest burden of publishing (the cost of paper, ink and distribution) bringing HD video, animation, eloquent info graphics and the engaging arts of video gaming to the task of journalism and most other purposes of non-fiction story-telling, including education.

Just as transformative, the iWhatever and its descendants will liberate users from the lean-forward nature of the desktop experience by putting the screen in our hands. The Internet will still be the best way to find what you’re looking for fast, but it will be a great deal more than that, as well. Thanks to broadband penetration, print has lost its monopoly on ubiquity.

When I was the editor of People, I used to say magazines were safe until fiber optics made it to the bathroom. That was a long time ago. What I could not imagine then was how much more robust story-telling could be when liberated from paper and ink, or how you could ever feel like curling up with a computer.

Perhaps most importantly, multimedia story-telling will endow “print” journalism with the brand-enhancing asset that has kept advertisers investing in broadcast and cable: the engaging energy of light, sound and motion. Industry analysts have yet to make the leap from Web as a distribution channel to revolutionary medium.

“The strategies that make media companies successful will require new capabilities,” according to one recent study, which enumerated them: “tracking and research to gain deeper insights into audience interests, informatics to manage and direct Web traffic, database management, custom content and applications development, and the ability to manage a network of partnerships.”

Well, yes. But the way to enhance those relationships is not through database management, but by building trust and engagement—by telling great stories in a way that makes people want to read and experience them.

The Next “Magazine”

This will not be easy. ASME will need to get over itself and stop treating advertisers like enemy occupiers. ABC rules and circulation practices will need to change so that print brands can re-imagine themselves without losing credit for the loyal adherents who follow them there. Publishing giants will have to act like startups, inviting story-tellers from the worlds of film and gaming to join writers and designers with a serious claim on resources and the mandate to fail until they succeed in perfecting the crafts and arts of multimedia story-telling.

When that happens, some enlightened American company—publisher, ASME, maybe even an advertiser!—knowing that its brand equity is intimately tied to the values it promotes, will put its name (and money) behind the next great American “magazine.”

That could very well be a broadband multimedia experience whose mission is the same one that has always informed America’s publishing at its best—to share experience, in a spirit of generosity, to bear faithful witness, to bring coherence and light to the gravest problems and greatest purposes of American life.

Or, as Henry Luce once put it: “To see life. To see the world. To eyewitness great events ….”

Now that’s an app.

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