If you’re interested in how magazines are approaching the e-reader market (iPad for now) this exchange between Josh Quittner, editor at large for digital development at Time Inc and Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine is pretty interesting. Jarvis was critical of the Time app (“I think the TIME Magazine app is the most sinful piece of shit ever“) for how walled in it was. Quittner responds on The Third Screen:
Google is a great business—for Google. We all know that it has made Google an enormous amount of money for itself and its shareholders. And I have no doubt that Google ads and the attendant freeconomy keep bloggers like you in cigs and the occasional bottle of Midnight Train. The notion, however, that ALL media must be free, and linkable, and remixable and open not only doesn’t work for large, news-gathering organizations, it’s turning out that it’s not even what all readers/consumers want. There is no single recipe for success in the media business, professor.
In the comments someone asks Quittner about the price which in my mind is something that needs to be ironed out quickly in the early stages of e-readers.
I understand the point of charging what the market will bear but I do have other entertainment options and the magazines that get pricing right will get my long term loyalty.
To which he responds:
Like you, however, I made an erroneous assumption: That the incremental cost of making a digital copy was zero. In fact, it’s not. A typical issue of Time is about 80 megabytes, which costs a lot more to deliver than you’d think. (I’m told, in fact, that it’s weirdly close to how much it costs us to deliver an issue of a magazine.)
On the pricing front I was surprised to see National Geographic going for fifteen bucks because I know they’ve got a lot of interactive stuff baked into their Zinio offering. It turns out all the Zinio magazines are priced the same as the print subscriptions (Esquire is eight bucks for a year) and that the newest release of their app has solved a ton of issues and is running quite well now. Most of the magazines seem to be about a buck and issue which is not bad even if they are only scanning the pages.
Based on the number of titles at Zinio it will be difficult for other magazines to charge more for their electronic version. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.