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Friday, December 4, 2009

Publishers prepare magazines for tablet

According to All Things Digital, Time Inc. is working on digitized versions of its magazine titles that are designed to “run on whatever tablet Apple or any[one] else has up their sleeves.” Time says that the digital versions will be ready by the middle of next year or before and has released a video demo of a Sports Illustrated issue that is definitely worth watching. The video demonstrates an impressive magazine with interactive videos, graphics, and the ability to share a picture or article with friends via Facebook.

Meanwhile, there are rumors circulating that Time, Conde Nast, and Hearst will form a joint venture to create an “iTunes-like” store for magazines. The store could include over 50 digital magazines that can be read on multiple platforms including Apple and Blackberry devices. An article from The New York Observer notes that if the rumors are true, the joint venture will bring together rival publishers in one of the biggest alliances ever formed in print media. “Each magazine publisher now believes it’s too risky to go it alone to find new ways to get consumers to pay. If they all join together, the reasoning goes, they stand a better chance of producing greater revenue.”

When interactive digital magazines that enhance the print version become available, it will further increase expectations for what digital textbooks should be capable of doing on comparable devices. The availability of such content will also likely further promote netbooks or similar multi-function devices over the mostly single-purpose e-readers on the market today. The willingness of these large competitors to cooperate to save their industry also sends a message about competitive cooperation, or coopetition, that could benefit academic publishers and retailers. Unless we want to see our products and channels go the way of the music, video, and newspaper industries, some creative partnering and solutions are in order.

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