Monday, May 16, 2011

The Future Of Print Is Digital

It starts to sound like a broken record, the future of print is digital. But the nature of people is to reject change, not embrace it. The visionaries can see the future and can adapt quicker to it. The result is that some companies look like leaders and others like followers.

In the world of publishing, some companies find it harder to risk the loss of print subscribers so they delay adding a digital subscription. The Wall Street Journal was quick to build a digital subscription model; The New York Times slower. And more are finally beginning to come around. A new pricing model is finally developing. "Increasingly, publishers are charging premium prices for digital content, betting on a new breed of media consumer willing to pay for content on devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPad, and throwing in print at little or no additional cost." And I suspect that subscriptions will start to rise at a healthy pace.

Even Forbes recognizes that these "digital pennies" that Jeff Zucker once laughed at brings a significant revenue. "What is the main reason for (Steve) Forbes’s confidence? He revealed that digital revenues from now account for 50pc of Forbes magazine’s total revenues, having successfully sold advertising at a premium rate and attracted 19 to 20 million unique visitors per month. Forbes said that the company may experiment with paywalls and micro-payments in the future as it was important to have a 'hybrid model'”.

Apple's visionary push for a tablet, the success of the iPad, and the subsequent rise of competition in this space, coupled with other mobile devices, is having a revolutionary impact on the media landscape. It is reviving mature brands and enabling new users to easily purchase and consume. Certainly, this digital age has some negative repercussions. Less print means less paper and less physical manufacturing. It also means less paper being mailed and more loss for the Post Office. Change has repercussions; there is hurt and there is gain. But it must happen. For as we know, nothing stands still and change is the only constant.