Thursday, September 16, 2010

Online/Electronic Magazines and why I haven't taken the plunge

I own a Kindle.

I own an iPad.

The large majority of the books I purchase and read are on these two devices. 90% Kindle and 10% iPad. But the one thing I don't read on the iPad or Kindle are periodicals. Why you may ask. I've been asking myself the same thing and I've come up with an answer. Cause there are two many choices and two many vendors.

For example, if you read Men'sHealth logic would tell me just to go to Amazon or iBooks and look for it there. I associate Amazon and iBooks as the Borders and Barnes & Noble of electronic books (sorry guys). In the good old days of book store utilization if I couldn't find it at Borders and I go to Barnes & Noble. But back to the example, Men'sHealth, if you are in the app store you will see a Men'sHealth app...why? There is also Zinio who is trying to be the Kindle/iBooks for periodicals. They also have Men's Health but it's the UK version.....that makes sense right? No it doesn't and this is the main problem I have with Zinio. Lots of magazines but they seem to be for the rest of the world. US versions are hit and miss so buyer beware in their store.

Is this Zinio's fault? No, I think the publishers are struggling with a changing business model.

Here is another question. Why can't I convert my tree killing subscription of Men's Health to the electronic version, even if I have to use their stupid app? I've sent emails to the publisher asking this and I haven't heard a word. In fact, I wouldn't mind paying $5 to convert the subscription. No answer from Men's Health.

People constantly complain on the Kindle subscription reviews because they don't feel that they are getting value. This perceived lack of value occurs because they can read and entire magazine in an hour. If you remove all the ad's from the magazines (because ads are graphic and the Kindle doesn't lend itself to full page color ads) they are much thinner. This is like complaining to DishNetwork that the Discovery Channel stinks because your DVR allows you to skip the commercials. Think about how small a Cosmo would be if you took out all the ads.

Magazines are a different reading experience and I think the iPad will shine for this form of media. It comes the closets to replicating the experience and that's what will have to happen for periodicals. Magazine are more graphic intensive. But having said that, Magazine publishers should probably not focus on their own apps and decide to either give into the Apple machine or throw their weight behind someone like Zinio. The magazine publishers are going to shoot themselves in the foot by fragmenting the delivery platform of their content. We've seen this happen time and time again. Content creators do well when they do that...create content.