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Why Digital Newsstands Stink

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the taking-a-cue-from-analog-newsstands dept.

Google 184

An anonymous reader writes "As Google prepares to compete with Apple in the digital newsstand business, both companies seem to be glossing over the fact that consumer demand for digital magazines is dropping. 'Wired's collapse from 100,000 iPad copies in June to 23,000 in November was most dramatic, but the story is not much different at Glamour, Vanity Fair, GQ or Men's Health.' Meanwhile, issues of subscriber privacy continue to crop up — Google has reportedly told publishers it will supply certain information about subscribers, and it's not clear whether users will have the ability to opt-out. And according to the Wall Street Journal, 'Apple is planning to share more data about who downloads a publisher's app, information publishers can use for marketing purposes.'"

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All your Data are belong to us (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747502)

Brent Spiner could not be contacted for comments.

Predicted future news: (4, Insightful)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747520)

People continue to prefer not paying for things. Also, most people like having privacy in their lives.

Re:Predicted future news: (2, Interesting)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747540)

People are too busy playing Angry Birds (or some other equivalent for iPad) to bother reading a magazine. Seriously, though. I've never seen anybody using an iPad on my train for anything other than a game.

Re:Predicted future news: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747546)

Seriously, though. I've never seen anybody using an iPad on my train for anything other than a game.

And? The whole point of the iPad is to watch movies, play games and surf the web. Which is why so many people lap them up while the freetards like you fail to understand why.

Re:Predicted future news: (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747662)

"so many" haven't.

A small number have. This small number tends to be overhyped and overinflated by fanboys that seem to desperately want to replace the old MS-DOS hegemony with a new PhoneOS hegemony.

There are still many more eyeballs for non-proprietary content of all sorts (not just magazines).

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747744)

Ah yes, the pathetic attempt to try to narrowly define terms in order to win the debate. Having 95% of the tablet market and having sold well more than 7 million iPads since launch makes it far more than a "small number" when talked about in relation to other tablet sales and even with respect to other media devices. I'm sure Apple is laughing all the way to the bank at those "small number of sales".

Re:Predicted future news: (2)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747806)

Not to nitpick but 95% of a market that is pretty much made up of them plus a few johnny-come-lately newcomers isn't that impressive. And 7 million is a small number in relation to pretty much any comparable statistic.

Re:Predicted future news: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747908)

And 7 million is a small number in relation to pretty much any comparable statistic.

Small relative to the number of guys your mother serviced last night.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748506)

ah but it is 7 million ipads in what 8 months? that is 10 million a year probably 25 million over 2 years.

The big problem is Apple tossed every one a giant curve ball with the ipad. Apple beat the crap out of everyone on price and a giant software stack. The Galaxy tab is a great example, no wifi version and the 3G version costs more than the ipad's 3G version for 30% less screen size. Your paying more for less with every competitor than it worth while now. The Wifi only version is 6 months behind the 3G version why?

There isn't a decent comparison for price, performance or even custom software stack. Apple has spent at least 4 years if not 5 refining IOS and spring board to work excellently with finger touch screen interfaces. Android hasn't, MSFT tossed all their stuff to copy Apple's ideas.

Personally while I love my mac's, and my iphone, I don't want an ipad. Well I want an ipad type device but the ipad is to heavy for what I want. The galaxy tab isn't bad (especially if it gets android 2.3) but there is no wifi only version.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748456)

Jedidiah is a troll. Don't respond to him.

Re:Predicted future news: (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747558)

That's probably because the format sucks for reading. I'm sure it's great for cruising the web, watching videos and gaming, but actual reading isn't so good with it.

But, E-ink readers like Kindle and Nook are great for reading, but marginal at best for gaming and web surfing. And not at all suitable for videos. I could be wrong, but somehow I suspect that people buying iPads weren't doing so for the purposes of reading books.

Re:Predicted future news: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747618)

Actually, the format is great for reading, I own an iPad and read with it all the time. Have you used one? Some people

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747660)

That's probably because the format sucks for reading. I'm sure it's great for cruising the web.

Whats the optical difference between "reading" wireds app, and "cruising the web" by jaywalking over to www.wired.com? Does the app suck, more than the website, I mean?

Also, why is it no good for reading, other than some marketing guy says e-ink is better and some stockholm syndrome victims repeat it?

I have no problem reading on my ipad. I'm told I'm supposed to, but the dang thing just works.

Re:Predicted future news: (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747846)

I take it you don't read for long periods of time. E-ink definitely causes less strain on the eyes than when I try to read on a monitor. It's not a matter of stockholm syndrome, it's that trying to read for long periods of time on a monitor sucks. Sure it's workable, but it isn't the same as ink standard or electronic.

Re:Predicted future news: (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747994)

Get a better monitor and / or turn down the brightness a tad? Really. I look at LCD monitors ALL DAY sometimes. No eyestrain until I go outside and see the bright shiny thing.

This seems to be some sort of urban myth. It's quoted forever but people's experience varies so widely that I don't think it is really true. Of course, I've seen many, many computers with LCD displays that are set up so poorly with terrible fonts, colors, resolutions and brightness settings that I start getting nauseated after 5 minutes, but I don't think it's an LCD issue per se.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748210)

Well said. I agree. Same thing here: Work all day with LCDs (six on my desk), play with the iPad all I want, and no eyestrain. Going outside? Yeah, that gives me eyestrain.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748260)

No eyestrain until I go outside and see the bright shiny thing

Bender's ass?

I like magazines - real paper - better than any electronic format because of the layout of pages and the magazine as a whole. I do get some eye strain from concentrated reading on a monitor for long periods of time, though I do spend nine or more hours a day on a computer with little to no problem (programming is different than reading).

I have been paying $15 per year for a GQ subscription for 15 years, and will continue to do so as long as they publish it. The sum is greater than the parts; online one gets only the parts of a traditionally laid out magazine.*

Re:Predicted future news: (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748088)

I take it you don't read for long periods of time. ... it's that trying to read for long periods of time on a monitor sucks....

Get your eyes checked. Seriously, not being a jerk, just some advice at the human level. Its like heart problems where if the doc catches it early, its no problemo vs you wait for it to start working. Being blind would kind of suck, especially if it could have been easily prevented. My grandmother has taken eyedrops for most of her life, something about an iris problem or whatever, but a lifetime of eyedrops beats the heck out of getting diagnosed after going blind. Maybe all you need is eyeglasses.

Normal healthy people can gaze into their LCD monitor or LCD TV for, frankly, the majority of their waking time, with no pain or discomfort at all. A world full of office workers gaze into their laptop LCD all day, then watch their LCD TV all night, no problemo.

"no pain no gain" is for a (inaccurate) motto for weightlifters, not readers. If reading hurts, you're totally doing it wrong.

The iPad display != monitor (0)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748188)

I read for many hours at a time; generally I read (fiction) from start to finish in one event. I have experienced absolutely no eyestrain with the iPad. I have control over the font size, the brightness, and I can force the reader to my preferred orientation. This is the Kindle app in particular I'm talking about, I haven't bought anything for the other readers yet. I've had the kindle app since they released it and my iPad has hundreds of books on it (all of which I've read.) I have no problem with the iPad's reading capabilities except, perhaps, in the very brightest sun -- which is a situation I would *never* try to read in anyway, because I value my eye health. However, inside the car on a bright, sunny day - no problem, again, can read for hours, no eyestrain.

Our actual Kindle, on the other hand, can't be read in the dark, changes pages too slowly, and doesn't allow me to keep an eye on my email and other stuff, not to mention my chess and scrabble games or provide access to the zillion and one useful apps I carry with me in my iPad. The iPad costs a lot more, but you get a lot more, and the only legitimate downside, if you really want to push the point, is the battery life as a reader can "only" be stretched to about 12 hours.

The Kindle is a low-budget, low-performance e-reader. The iPad is a high-budget, high-performance e-reader with a ton of extra capability. As in, it's a tablet computer.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747944)

somehow I suspect that people buying iPads weren't doing so for the purposes of reading books

Of course not. People buying iPads CAN'T read books.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748666)

That's probably because the format sucks for reading. I'm sure it's great for cruising the web, watching videos and gaming, but actual reading isn't so good with it.

You're talking about 'novel reading'. The iPad is great for magazine'ish reading (not that far off from web browsing) and it travels nicely to the bathroom.

Re:Predicted future news: (3, Interesting)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747704)

I've used an iPad to manage a server from 35K feet on a Virgin Atlantic flight. Not everyone uses it for games.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748006)

I've used an iPad to manage a server from 35K feet on a Virgin Atlantic flight. Not everyone uses it for games.

Where'd you get the Airbus app? Sounds neat. Did the pilots mind?

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748398)

Yep, we bought 100 for our mobile workforce. With the Citrix receiver they can even access things like our corporate intranet though them. They aren't very useful for content creation but for quick access to existing information and choosing a couple dropdowns for canned reports they work great.

Re:Predicted future news: (4, Informative)

golden age villain (1607173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748200)

I am reading on the iPad quite often. The problem with the Wired app is that you have to pay extra dollars, even as a subscriber for the print issue, for what is basically a few videos and some cheesy animations. The really interesting content, a.k.a. the in-depth articles are not in the iPad issue. Honestly I don't see how that model could work. On the contrary, The Economist gives subscribers of the print issue the entire content at no extra cost and the app is free. You can even download the entire issue as audio files and you don't need to download an updated app every month and 300 MB of data for every single issue. Comics also make a good read. Actually reading is the only really useful feature of the iPad I found so far.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748216)

If Rovio decided to start an Angry Birds magazine right now, it'd out-sell Wired 3 to 1.

Re:Predicted future news: (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747648)

I don't thionk it's a matter of "People continue to prefer not paying for things", rather people continue to prefer not paying for things that are usually free -- like books, magazines, and music, which is at your local library for free.

When you buy a print newspaper, you're buying ink and paper, and the ads pay for the content. Now they've not only done away with the cost of the ink and paper, they're charging you as much as when they had to buy paper and ink, plus selling your private information!

People prefer free water out of the fountain, yet plenty still buy bottles of it. These "magazines" are like someone trying to sell bottled water that that tastes like urine -- inferior to the free version.

Re:Predicted future news: (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748248)

These "magazines" are like someone trying to sell bottled water that that tastes like urine -- inferior to the free version.

Oh, so you've been to Starbucks...

No, it's not that. (2)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748382)

I'm just going to jump in here and rain -- tropically -- on your parade: Most people don't use the library. For anything. Speaking as a devoted library user who doesn't mind in the least paying for music, magazines and books. Of the subset of the population that actually reads, most still don't use the library on any regular basis, if at all. If they did, we'd need a lot more of them, I can tell you that. Our library is quiet as a tomb, and not just because people are behaving well. I can walk several aisles before I even *see* another person. The reading tables are mostly empty. The sound booths are empty. The librarian, with access to darned near anything you can think of via the inter-library loan system, sits there and just... reads. The library cat leaps into my arms when I show up. That's how pitiful library utilization is. I don't even know why we *have* a library, based on utilization.

The reason I don't buy canned magazines for my iPad is they take up lots of space that I'd much rather stuff with apps, music, and data like I/Q HF spectrum recordings (see the iSDR app... now we're [where "we" is a subset consisting of hams and SWLs] *really* having fun.) Well, that, and most magazines suck really bad, but they do that in paper form as well.

I *do* buy books for my iPad, and in pretty fair quantities -- don't buy printed books any longer at all. But I don't try to get them, or music, or games, or apps, or films, for free. Neither does my sweetheart or our kids. We understand the relationship between the elbow room required to create, the income required to obtain that elbow room, and our role in providing said income. The lack of that understanding, IMHO, is the basis for most of this copyright infringement: a clueless, egocentric and ethically bankrupt feeling of entitlement. Usually justified by uber-crapola like "information wants to be free" and "but by copying, I didn't take anything." That kind of childish thinking is absolutely appalling.

Re:Predicted future news: (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748642)

How much of the cost of the newspaper is tied up in the printing & distribution, versus the amount tied up in paying the salaries of the people who create the content in the newspaper? My feeling is it's a rather shockingly low percentage of the overall cost of running the magazine - from what I've read about the Book & CD markets, large-run pressings cost in the range of pennies-per-unit once the master is completed, and that most of the cost of producing that master has to do with the creative process, and not the duplication.

So, let's assume that the same is true of magazine production, even if the percentages are higher. What about digital distribution justifies the sudden "it should be free" declaration people love to make about anything that comes in a digital format? Salaries still have to be paid - writers, layout & design specialists, graphic artists, copy editors, ad execs, mailroom clerks, secretaries... those jobs all exist still, even if the publisher doesn't have to pay printing & mailing costs. So why would anybody reasonably assume that digital distribution should immediately equate to "free to consumers"?

Truck delivery (4, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747522)

Hey, I've seen all those movies where they just throw a big bundle of the latest issues off the back of a truck as they pass by the newsstand.
Even with a protective case that's gotta be harsh on the iPad.

Well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747562)

That is why I am greater than everybody else because I am 85 and buy everything in paper form and think everybody should buy everything in paper form.

Just mocking those old farts before they have a chance to get all ego crazy on us.

same as music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747564)

Just like nobody wants to buy a whole album anymore, nobody wants to buy a whole magazine or newspaper. You just want to read the one article you are interested in and go back to playing Angry Birds.

Re:same as music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747784)

People want to buy whole albums, record companies don't want to back people who are capable of doing so, and instead take one or two good songs, give them to the prettiest kid they can find, and fill the rest of their "album" with shit they found stuck to a greasy fat guy's chin.

Really though, doesn't it seem likely that albums aren't selling as a whole anymore because the person who's album it is has nothing to do with the music creation?

privacy? gotta be some other reason... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747568)

Good god! When has anyone on the internet ever cared about privacy? We're talking *500 million* people who don't mind giving their data to a company whose entire business model is about selling it to advertisers and tracking every move they make.

We're talking hundreds of millions of people that still run tracking scripts from google analytics.

If there's one thing the internet has taught us, it's that people don't give a shit about their privacy. If some business fails, it isn't because people objected to the privacy violations. People LOVE privacy violations.

Re:privacy? gotta be some other reason... (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747642)

We're talking *500 million* people who don't mind giving their data to a company whose entire business model is about selling it to advertisers and tracking every move they make.

I'm pretty sure that Google has more than 500 million users.

Re:privacy? gotta be some other reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747686)

I meant Facebook in the first paragraph :). Although for all I know they have more than 500 million by now: it's just the last figure I heard.

Re:privacy? gotta be some other reason... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747876)

There are degrees, and ultimately at this point, you don't even have to go online yourself to have your privacy violated by some company that's too cheap to properly secure their servers.

This isn't a new issue... (5, Interesting)

sglewis100 (916818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747590)

The privacy issue has to be framed against the fact that they have this same information on you when you subscribe annually in print form. That's why they want it so much - they are used to it! That said, Apple to date has been very adamant about not sharing this information with app developers upon download time, it's actually been a bone of contention, and a major hindrance to magazines with annual subscription offerings. Zinio and Amazon (Kindle) have sidestepped it by forcing you to purchase through their web fronts. PressDisplay does subscriptions through their web sites, and single issues for newspapers through the App Store in-app purchasing, so they get your information when you subscribe, but not when you buy one issue.

Re:This isn't a new issue... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747714)

The privacy issue has to be framed against the fact that they have this same information on you when you subscribe annually in print form.

All make magazine knows about me is my address and CC number. If they outsource fulfillment, they don't even know that. The nosiest print magazine I can think of is QST where the ARRL also knows my callsign.

Apple / Google know an unholy heck of a lot more about me.

Re:This isn't a new issue... (1)

sglewis100 (916818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747808)

All make magazine knows about me is my address and CC number. If they outsource fulfillment, they don't even know that. The nosiest print magazine I can think of is QST where the ARRL also knows my callsign.

Apple / Google know an unholy heck of a lot more about me.

Magazine publishers have a lot more information for their advertisers than just your address. And they get it from multiple places, not just your subscription card (of which many of those ask questions like salary level, of which more people than you would imagine answer).

Apple may know a lot more about you, but so far seem unwilling to give it to publishers of magazines.

Re:This isn't a new issue... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748448)

So they take your name, address, and CC number and ask Experian for a more detailed report on who you are.

Re:This isn't a new issue... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748608)

The nosiest print magazine I can think of is QST where the ARRL also knows my callsign.

Given your name and address, I can look up your callsign.

What I cannot fathom is why people buy vanity license plates to put their callsign on. I mean, given a callsign I can look up your address, and if you are tooling around in your car you aren't at home where all your expensive ham radios are... plus I know that you probably have one in your car that is easily stolen when you park it on the street. (We had a rash of such thefts not long ago.)

iPad vs. eInk: I find eInk harder to read because it needs a certain level of light. I find eInk better overall because it uses so much less power internally because it doesn't have a backlight.

Paper vs. electronic magazines: Did anyone figure out if the decline in wired electronic versions is because people don't like reading electronic versions in general or just don't like reading Wired? I dropped my Wired paper sub because I think Wired has become Tired. One can stand only so much of the 'circus' format that was bleeding edge when they started. And that's with a $10/year sub rate.

On the other hand, I've been buying Analog in electronic format because it is so much easier to keep up with my reading. My paper copy goes on the shelf where I never pick it up. My e-copy goes with me where I go. I'm thinking about doing more magazines that way.

Re:This isn't a new issue... (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747720)

The privacy issue has to be framed against the fact that they have this same information on you when you subscribe annually in print form.

It should be noted that they could potentially gather exponentially more data from you using an e-reader than they do just having your subscription info. Advertisers won't care that I have a subscription to Motor Trend if they can know which article's I spent the most time reading, what time of day that I read it, which e-reader I'm using, etc. So this argument that I quoted is almost a non sequitur and one of the reasons some sort of opt-out/opt-in policy needs to be standard for subscriptions.

Do they ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747884)

I can buy my PAPER magazine or newspaper with cash. I stopped buying abo long ago. 1) it ain't worth it mostly, as you might be interrested in an issue but not others 2) by varrying your magazine source you vary the bias and get a better picture, 3) too much paper spam gotten due to abo. 4) newstand is paid by cash and thus virtually untraceable for the most paranoid and certainly nothing marketing like can be won from you.

Pretty much... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747596)

After using e-book readers and various tablet computers for reading. Basically, overall it stinks. Sure, it's nice to do keyword searches or have an entire library in one small (but heavy) package. However, those are trivial compared to the ability, with paper, to rapidly flip around, not crash, not have the company decide you're not authorized all of a sudden for no reason, etc...

Re:Pretty much... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747914)

I disagree. If you buy your books from a publisher like O'Reilly, you get your copies without DRM and can install them on pretty much any device you like. Plus, despite the protests from book fanbois, the reality is that the book was always a bad design. Sure for nearly its entire lifetime it was the best anybody could do, but the form factor was never particularly good, and thankfully we now have an alternative.

Re:Pretty much... (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748358)

Are there any other publishers that do that? Especially major ones? That's very nice of O'Reilly but they only do technical books as far as I'm aware and lend themselves very well to electronic format. However novels and magazines don't really.

Re:Pretty much... (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747976)

However, those are trivial compared to the ability, with paper, to rapidly flip around, not crash, not have the company decide you're not authorized all of a sudden for no reason, etc...

Then back up your e-books to your PC. The DRM can easily be stripped away giving you an unencrypted version that they can never take away from you.

Re:Pretty much... (2)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748372)

I hope the DRM will always be trivial to remove.

Well (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747606)

Half the "fun" of a physical magazine is the ability to skim through it and flip the pages. Using "digital" magazines has none of that ability. Reading books in digital is great because it is a linear process. But how many people read magazines in a start to finish fashion?

Re:Well (3, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747722)

Reading books in digital is great because it is a linear process. But how many people read magazines in a start to finish fashion?

*Raises hand* Scientific American, Wired, The Economist, and MAKE.

Re:Well (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747766)

Half the "fun" of a physical magazine is the ability to skim through it and flip the pages.... But how many people read magazines in a start to finish fashion?

There are people that don't? How do you know if you missed that cool article, you know, the one you skipped past accidentally?

And there are people that physically "enjoy" flipping pages? Just get an old TV guide and flap away. No need to blow money on a new magazine every time you get the urge.

Re:Well (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747864)

That's one of the things I always hated about magazines (and newspapers as well) -- the "continued on page nine".

Isn't clicking random links in the "magazine" the same thing as skimming through it?

Re:Well (0)

kwerle (39371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748062)

Half the "fun" of a physical magazine is the ability to skim through it and flip the pages. Using "digital" magazines has none of that ability. Reading books in digital is great because it is a linear process. But how many people read magazines in a start to finish fashion?

I dunno - have you ever used an ipad - to read? Flipping pages is pretty damn easy (if the app doesn't suck). And jumping through articles could be pretty easy - again, if the app doesn't suck.

I'ts not 'cheapness' (5, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747608)

I, and many others, are perfectly willing to PAY good money for things that would otherwise be free.

But we don't want to watch advertisements while we do it.

Expecting people to pay for online content and ALSO see any advertisement (I mean ANYTHING, even simple words), is kind of like saying HBO wants to continue to charge their premium price for premium services but it is now going to show advertisements.

NO. You can't have it both ways,

You want ads? You can't charge. Period.

You want to charge? You can't have ads. Also, NO tracking. No ads means you don't have to tracks us (You can still track how many people read which article, but not which article any individual reads.)

As long as the greedy morons try to charge HBO prices for TBS content, surprise surprise, no one will pay.

Re:I'ts not 'cheapness' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34747726)

I take it that you have never read a magazine before...

Re:I'ts not 'cheapness' (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747728)

It's not just the ads, it's the proprietary formats and lack of portability.

What will happen to this stuff in a year, or in 5?

PDFs and unencrypted EPUBs are less fancy but you have more ownership of them.

Ultimately, if you can't resell it then you don't really own it.

Re:I'ts not 'cheapness' (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747926)

It's not just the ads, it's the proprietary formats and lack of portability.

What will happen to this stuff in a year, or in 5?

...

Ultimately, if you can't resell it then you don't really own it.

The problem is we're talking about magazines here. You know, last months news, provided next month, squeezed into the spaces between the ads and complimentary copy? Other than hoarders and museums no one wants my July 1991 discover magazine.

The only "media" I can think of with a deader aftermarket would be something like recordings of local TV news.

Your argument is, however, excellent for any media that actually has an aftermarket. You should have made a slippery slope argument that this is the nearly ideal application for DRM and "right to read" and all that and it'll "inevitably" spread its poison into the book and music market or something like that.

Re:I'ts not 'cheapness' (4, Informative)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747730)

But that's not how it works in the print world, except for a small set of free papers. The vast majority of print periodicals require you to pay (either subscription or newsstand) AND have much of the cost subsidized by advertisers.

The business model for magazine publishes is to collect a certain demographic of readers (which they verify using subscription data) that they can then market as a audience block to advertisers. They have a lot of data about this audience block, including demographics, income levels, and purchasing trends and more.

Re:I'ts not 'cheapness' (3, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747928)

What is this 'print world' you talk of it? It sounds like some ancient business that is failing.

The print world had far better advertisement rules - nothing in the middle of an article breaking it up, no video, no sound, no "ROLLOVER CRAP", most of it on entirely separate pages that people could skip over.

This is NOT the print world, and attempting to use the oldest of the systems as a model is why they fail

Re:I'ts not 'cheapness' (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748282)

True, and I can't help but think that people reading print-like content online would find ads a lot less objectionable if they behaved more like ads in print publications, simply by not breaking your concentration while you're trying to read the story. This is one of the secrets of Google's success, of course, but it's a lesson that no one else seems to want to learn.

Re:I'ts not 'cheapness' (1)

Urban Garlic (447282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747842)

That's a nice idea, but it's not going to work, they've already gone in a different direction. Some magazines offer bits of supplementary web-site content to their print subscribers. It's a real premium, but it doesn't get you away from the ads.

Also, it's happened before, your TBS example is instructive -- we used to think that subscription TV was supposed to be ad-free, but that didn't last very long.

SCTV had a good Dave Thomas bit about it, which is inexplicably not on YouTube...

Re:I'ts not 'cheapness' (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747950)

It's a nice idea that none of them have tried. You can't say it's not going to work because while they are trying the other direction, they keep failing at that other direction.

At least one of them should give up on the obnoxious double dipping that has consistently failed and see what happens.

In other words, the counter example of failures is not a very good reason not to try something that they did not try.

Re:I'ts not 'cheapness' (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748386)

I, and many others, are perfectly willing to PAY good money for things that would otherwise be free.

Sadly, it seems that you + many others =

...NO. You can't have it both ways,

You want ads? You can't charge. Period.

You want to charge? You can't have ads.

I'd rather say you can have it both ways:
Pay & no ads or Ads and no (or small) payment.

It's digital. I can code that up for you if you like...

It was a dumb idea (3, Insightful)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747628)

Even if I wanted to pay for news and magazine articles (which I don't) why would I want to go through the extra complication of a separate app for every newspaper, and downloading each magazine? The web already covers this. Am I missing something?

Re:It was a dumb idea (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747812)

Am I missing something?

You know that trivia fact that if you whacked a dinosaurs tail, the nerve impulses would take 2 minutes or whatever to go to the brain and back? Something to do with inadequate myelination or something?

Well in this situation the dinosaurs don't know they're dead yet and are still thrashing around noisily. We can say "bye" to them soon. Maybe we can make crude oil out of them?

Re:It was a dumb idea (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747838)

For me its much better to browse an aggregator such as google news or an RSS client for articles and then pick and choose from different sources. Often on google news I will deliberately select a foreign source for a domestic article because they edit the text differently and give it a more interesting slant.

I don't want to subscribe to all of Wired or The Age or what ever. I will however read bits and pieces of each and maybe I would pay for access to some of those bits.

So I think the subscription model needs to be rethought around this more disparate way of doing things. For me it would be a lot more use if the Magazine app is more like an RSS app.

Re:It was a dumb idea (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747948)

Indeed. I haven't tried it, but I'm somewhat intrigued by B&N's Newstand. At present it's only supported by Nook Color, but it does seem to be an interesting way of addressing that problem.

In the long run it does look interesting, but for the time being I'm definitely not buying into it without being able to use it on my Nook.

Re:It was a dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748482)

There are differences between the web pages and the print version of magazines (at least the ones I read). The magazine is a better, more complete experience and it's in your hans all at once. Assuming the iPad versions mimic (I don't have an iPad) the print versions, I would welcome the opportunity to subscribe or buy individual issues at the same cost as the print counterparts. Of course the ability to add interactivity and video would further enhance the experience. Having previous issues available without the 'hoarder'-like clutter is also a plus. The success of this media conversion from print will take time. Even with the current success of the iPad, there are still far more people with eyes than there are with iPads.

As much about the UI as anything else. (1)

Jason Pollock (45537) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747630)

Magazines are very, very random access. When I read a magazine, I rarely start at the ToC. I'll flip through the magazine, stopping at a picture that interests me, a title that interests me, or something else. Heck, I tend to look at the advertisements before I look at the ToC!

So, while I love my iPad, it definitely doesn't suit the way I like to read magazines.

Re:As much about the UI as anything else. (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747760)

That's more of a problem with the user interface than with the medium, isn't it? I pretty much browse magazines the same way as you do, and I guess there are lots of people that are the same. Electronic media need some means of going over the content like that - but actually, in my opinion, tablets should be perfect for that.

Re:As much about the UI as anything else. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747968)

Electronic media need some means of going over the content like that

Is the "scroll bar" patented or something? I've seen plenty of GPL software providing a scroll bar on desktops. I've seen free software on the itunes app store that has a user interface with "multitouch scrolling" so I'm guessing its not patented or at least has a license generous enough that a "magazine app" could implement that UI component?

I'm not seeing an entire industry being destroyed because of a minor UI feature.

Re:As much about the UI as anything else. (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748004)

This might just be a matter of personal taste - but the scroll bar doesn't do the same thing for me like flipping through a magazine does. I actually have no idea how to implement that function in the manner I like it - but if someone finds a way, he sure has a lot of market share to gain.

Re:As much about the UI as anything else. (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748454)

I can't be sure based on your description, but I *think* it's already been done. Check out Zineo [zinio.com] .

The pages turn, it's really "magazine-like." Very good looking, very familiar. I read quite a few magazines using it. The subscription update mechanism is pretty clever, too.

The only downside? Centerfolds. :) Just not enough monitor space on most desktops.

Re:As much about the UI as anything else. (1)

jimfrost (58153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748546)

The Wired iPad app does give you a way to see the breadth of the content without having to go page-by-page using a navigation bar that has images of a number of pages across it. It uses a scroll bar whereas I'd rather flick, but either way it is a fine way to browse quickly and I use that pretty regularly. I would like to be able to make the icons bigger, though, so I could get more of an idea of what's on the page ... and maybe that becomes a whole new mode.

Zinio does more or less the same thing.

Re:As much about the UI as anything else. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747942)

Its possible that the people on the publishers side who put the app together never realised that. They envisage you stepping through their document one page at a time like a good little luser.

Amazon Kindle Store - Periodicals (5, Insightful)

Fantom42 (174630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747690)

Go look at the comments for some of the "top sellers" of periodicals on the Kindle. Things like New Yorker, or Economist. You find that there are a ton of people that want to pay for this stuff on their device, but right now the deal is no good. Here are a few examples of what people justly complain about:

- When you buy a digital subscription, you don't get website access that you do get with a print subscription.
- Missing editorial cartoons, and even articles (reported from the Kindle version of the New Yorker)
- They delete access to anything more than 2 months old. Meaning if your device crashes or you have to replace it, you lose those articles.
- Pagination and sections are done in an inconvenient way.
- The cost is no cheaper than a print subscription.

I'm sure there are others. But as a person who recently found himself with an e-book reader and would love to have magazines and newspapers on there, much of this stuff is just a showstopper. Too bad, really.

Re:Amazon Kindle Store - Periodicals (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747970)

Pricing seems to be an industry wide problem right now. You get DRM and they typically charge you more for the privilege. It's a shame, but that's how it is at present, hopefully it will change in the future.

Re:Amazon Kindle Store - Periodicals (1)

Conception (212279) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748126)

Calibre + the Economist online full subscription feed works quite well. Just an FYI if you have a Kindle. The iPad Economist App is solid as well.

This isn't a hard problem. (3, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747710)

Put issues in the iBookstore for $0.99.

Add a subscribe option.

Profit.

Nobody is going to pay full retail for an electronic version, it ain't happening. Alternatively come up with a global pass system ala hulu that allows you to read lots of magazines for a flat fee.

Otherwise, $6.99 buys a lot of 3G time to look at your website. For free.

Re:This isn't a hard problem. (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748536)


Put issues in the iBookstore for $0.99.

Add a subscribe option.

Profit.

...also, reduce download size by factor of ten to a hundred, eliminate animations/video, automate subscriptions, and make sure I can read at any magnification I want with a column-aware zoom tool... then I'd be interested. Oh, wait... also, they need content I'd be interested in, which Wired, bless its edgy little heart, doesn't supply. QST? Sure, I'd subscribe to that if it was reasonably sized and priced. Make too, maybe. A men's magazine here or there, somewhere I could get away from the insane notion that liberation and equal rights means women are bemused into the stunningly misguided idea that they look as good dressing in mens clothes as they do in actual feminine attire.

Its the cost. (5, Informative)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747786)

My subscription to Esquire is something silly, like $12 a year. Not taking into account the cost of the iPad, buying the iPad version of the magazine costs $5 an issue. That's $12 vs $60 a year.

So, why should I buy the digital version when the print version is not just better, but cheaper? And I dont need a specialized tool to read it.

Re:Its the cost. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748284)

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2005-09-19/ [dilbert.com]
The classic wisdom on that is captured by the Scott Adams / Dilbert series about the "stupid / rich" market segment. People who overpay for a toy Apple iPad are thought to be willing to overpay for a magazine subscription too.

Put another nail in that coffin (2)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747790)

Meanwhile, issues of subscriber privacy continue to crop up — Google has reportedly told publishers it will supply certain information about subscribers, and it's not clear whether users will have the ability to opt-out.

There's a good idea. Take a business that's having trouble catching on and give people another excuse not to subscribe.

Did anyone try pricing the digital version at $2.00? Give people a compelling reason to switch from the print version. Instead the digital version is expensive and crippled.

It all reminds of when music was struggling with the same issues. Now most of it is DRM free, it will play on almost any music player, and priced at $1. Do the same thing with the digital version of magazines.

Or die. Your choice.

The explanation (1)

hansraj (458504) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747862)

Indian government tried to enforce family planning once in seventies and the people had such strong aversions that even now the government is having tough time convincing people that family planning is a good idea. (1.2 billion and counting rather fast).

Now why am I talking about population of India in a post about digital newsstands?

Because it explains my theory for what is happening.

See, the print media was freaking out about going out of business thanks to digital media. So what did they do? They brainwashed the bigshots at print media companies (remember, they still were major players then) to go all India on people about why digital media was better.

So the bosses start something like "show me your tits!" campaign on reader data. They couldn't do anything else because to successfully install a suicide button in their companies they had to pick an idea that could be explained as well-meaning. With "show me your tits!" campaign they could say, "We wanted to check for breast cancer!"

But what it actually does is freak out the people (user data being the proverbial tits) and they think that digital media is some sort of information pervert.

Explanation to share-holders: "We just wanted a better advertisement targeting."
Check.

Installation of suicide button.
Check.

And that, my friends, is what it is - a conspiracy that will ensure that digital media will always be a weak sibling to print media. And even slashdot was suckered into just propagating the suicide button.

You can't trust anything out there!
I mean here.. the internet, actually.

Magazine A-Type or B-Type (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747886)

I think they need to introduce two types of digital magazines. The free kind which sells basic information about you to get relevant advertisements. If you want to value your privacy even though this kind of privacy doesn't really matter and people tend to just scale things up anyhow, you can pay full-price for the digital magazine which wouldn't have any ads. Of course there could be a Type-C which would be for those who don't want to share their private info and pay less, which would be the default advert assumed in your region for half the cost of the mag. These possibilities were thought up on the spot and I'm sure someone can come up with a better plan easily. Privacy concerns are overrated when it comes to most stuff online. It becomes a concern when they start telling the feds what you've been up to or tell your friends what you've been searching ;)

Censorship (2)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747892)

Another reason that digital newsstands stink is censorship.

I am amazed that people are so accepting of the idea that this platform being touted as the future of publishing includes arbitrary censorship.

Apple has a well documented history of preventing their users from accessing apps that conflict with Apple's interests. This is not just about apps that add technical capabilities, like Google Voice, but also apps with editorial content. Apps that mention Android or make fun of politicians have been blocked. Cartoons by a Pulitzer prize winner author were blocked until he won the prize (great for him, not so great for those of us without a pulitzer). And now we have the same with magazine: Esquire had to remove racy content from a magazine to get past the censors, a magazine about Android was blocked, etc.

Am I missing something here? Is Apple planning to create a new system for magazine and books without the arbitrary censorship? If not, where did our concern for freedom of expression go?

To clarify, what Apple is doing is completely different then the standard, law based censorship (e.g. no child porno) that publishers are already subject to.

I'm less concerned about Google's digital newsstand - it will probably be like their app marketplace: subject only to a fairly simple, published, set of rules that restricts Google from the sort of abuse that Apple practices.

Re:Censorship (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748328)

To be fair, as traditional media has become more and more consolidated, the companies that own the magazines, newspapers, and networks exert this kind of control too. I'm not saying I approve of this situation, you understand, just pointing out that singling out e-publication as uniquely vulnerable doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Re:Censorship (1)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748704)

I'm not singling out 'e-publication' as uniquely vulnerable. I think that e-publication could be great.

The problem is Apple's current model. If a few prominent publishers were to stand up to Apple then the problem could be solved, but I haven't seen much evidence of this yet.

I have seen some mentions of the issue, e.g. this article in Canada's national newspaper, but it amazes me how little of this I have seen:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/personal-tech/ivor-tossell/apple-esquire-dust-up-bodes-ill-for-the-publishing-utopia-we-pictured/article1809205/ [theglobeandmail.com]

On the whole I am shocked that people don't seem to care about freedom of speech anymore. Witness that my post has not been modded up but your response has been.

Size Matters (2)

khr (708262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747900)

In addition to the random access and ease or fun of flipping through, most magazines are bigger than the iPad.

Sure with some you can zoom in with the pinch, but it's not the same as simply having a bigger magazine.

I haven't tried any of the magazine apps, but if I compare with the comic book ones, it's a lot easier reading a comic book or graphic novel on paper than dealing with the app.

Wired... (2)

Roogna (9643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34747972)

To be honest perhaps it's just that so far the digital offerings suck. I love the -idea- of a digital magazine. Wired seemed like a perfect candidate as well. Except instead of being a nice native, responsive, and fluid iPad app with spiffy digital only features to justify the high cost per issue vs. the print version, it was instead (afaict) a super slow PDF scan of the articles with a few little crappy low res videos tossed in. Virgin's "Project" is getting closer. But again, whoever decided on how navigation would be handled failed miserably in my opinion. The only thing I can come up with is that whoever they have in charge of the design of the digital versions at all these companies has never actually used an iPad themselves and is simply dictating off how things should be done, without ever picking up a device.

Print is king in the most important area (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34748112)

I prefer print magazines to digital. Simply because I only read magazines in the bathroom, when I'm on the toilet. (The older you get, the thicker the magazine you need to have handy.)

The magazines balance pretty well on the laundry hamper. And if they do slide off and fall on the floor, no harm done. I don't think an iPad would balance well on the hamper. And I certainly wouldn't want it to slide off and land on the floor.

Also, if you happen to run out of toilet paper... well, I've heard some of the iPad apps are really crap, but I think the print magazine would be better for that situation, too.

Won't anyone think of the content?! (3, Interesting)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748298)

It's not "digital newstands" that stink, it's "news" itself. It always has stunk, but it's not until we've had the Internet and free distribution channels for any alternatives that it's started to be seen for what it is.

Most, if not all of the content you find in any given "quality newspaper" is baloney. It's either political public opinion testing ("Obama MAY ban [something controversial]"), worthless human-interest crap and celebrity gossip, sport, re-heated press-releases, or pompous "this writer thinks..." editorials reading only slightly less well than most stand-up comedy routines ("Single mothers!?! What's up with them???!!").

In terms of content, I think newspapers and most magazines have hit the buffers now. They used to fulfil a middle-class need for mental masturbation, making people feel they had to "keep up" with the "news" or they would mysteriously fall victim to being "uninformed" about whether some politician wanted them to know about some policy or other (pretty much consumption of propaganda from government and industry). But with the web, blogs, Twitter, RSS whatever, it's now much easier to get what you need about news that matters to you in more concentrated form than newspapers or magazines are offering.

So the decline in news consumption has less to do with platforms or channels, and much more to do with the fact that the Internet has simply unmasked publications like Newsweek and Wired as being pretty poor-quality against the general free flow of information from non-mainstream sources. In short, content is RALLY king this time. Heck, on any given subject, I would get more out of /. than I would from reading Time's coverage of it.

We need big screen - fast - color e-ink (1)

TooTechy (191509) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748356)

Only when I can sit outside, reading my magazine, with a beer (martini, glass of wine, cup of coffee) in my hand, not having to move the screen around the page to view it, will I be happy. Then, I will really want one of these devices and replace my National Geographic and New Scientist subscriptions with digital ones.

But the battery has to last for days. This display has to be full color, readable outside. None of this flickering stuff that we have now. It has to be Letter sized (A4 for the Europeans).

Wired as an example... (2)

Balthisar (649688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748366)

I subscribe to Wired. I also read Wired's website when I don't have access to my subscription (I travel a lot). I'd prefer a Wired app to their website, but not for an extra $5 per month for duplicate content. Oh, wait, you say: but it has enhanced content! I don't give a crap about enhanced content, or I'd not subscribe to the magazine in the first place.

I also subscribe to Cook's Illustrated, both the physical magazine and their online site. (The online site gives me access to everything before I subscribed.) The iOS app is free, but also lets me log in for full content. Since Apple doesn't (yet) support subscriptions, I'd say that something like that would be a happy medium for Wired.

Perhaps it is people trial reading? (1)

cruff (171569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748374)

Wired's collapse from 100,000 iPad copies in June to 23,000 in November was most dramatic,

If they are like me, they decided more than 1/2 of Wired is crap they are not interested in and gave up. While I find there are usually one or two really interesting feature articles and several shorter pieces in a print copy of Wired, most of the other stuff is uninteresting to me or printed in a font that is so small that I refuse to get up to get a magnifying lens.

The biggest problem - individual apps (1)

Sarusa (104047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748394)

I bought the first iPad ep of Wired for $5 just because, and then never bought another. It was 600 MB for something that was less convenient to read than the print version because of their stupid flow tricks (and had different content in landscape and portrait modes, so if you wanted to see everything you had to keep flipping it - how asinine can you get?). And it ate up an app icon back before app folders.

On the other hand, I love Zinio, and subscribe to NatGeo, The Economist, New Scientist among others on it. Wish they had more. When Kindle gets mag subscriptions I'll check that out as well. It's far more convenient on the iPad, there's no waste, it's the same price or cheaper as the discount print subs, and you get your issues up to a week before the physical issues reach mailboxes. As long as it's all in a single app.

What cost, digital? (2)

jimfrost (58153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748458)

I don't know about everyone else, but I'm disinclined to spend $5 for every issue of things that I pay $12/year for in paper. I have continued to buy most issues of Wired for the iPad because I really like the layout, but I haven't bought all of them because the cost is kind of ridiculous, and I've bought only a handful of issues of any magazines other than Wired. I'm hoping they (and others) offer subscriptions soon. It's crazy that it hasn't happened yet.

I don't know what it's like on Android devices, but this high cost does not carry over to the Kindle -- I get The Atlantic and The New Yorker on the Kindle at very reasonable prices. From magazine-specific apps to Zinio, though, iPad magazines are overpriced. I am really looking forward to photography magazines on the iPad once they realize that one of the big benefits can be to provide high-resolution images for everything they publish; it's irritating when space constraints force small images, and right now that irritation is carried straight to the electronic form ... but if they continue with obscene prices I guess it's just going to have to be paper.

Another big irritation e.g. with Wired for the iPad is sheer size. A third of a gig? That's a big hunk of the total storage of the machine, and while I can shuffle them on and off it is really irritating to have to wait for that to download to the device (and wait some more while it "installs"). The result is gorgeous, make no mistake, but I have to believe that there is a better way than providing images of every page.

No solution in sight. (2)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#34748508)

Is this a surprise?

Access to the web and a countless number of apps all offer countless distractions competing for the attention of a user. And, more importantly, why pay for something that can be had for free online? There are certain types of content and a level of assured quality a reader might miss out on by not going with one of these publications, but even those things aren't guaranteed.

And admittedly consumers can be unreasonable at times about what they expect something should cost. I've read complaints that the cost of digital issues isn't low enough compared to the printed version. The problem is that most of the expense of producing that magazine isn't going into printing. The bulk of the expense goes into generating and laying out that content, something that has to be done for both print and digital.

I think we're far from seeing a solution. Perhaps publications need to move to more focused content. Maybe authors with a following will start selling their work directly to consumers.

I wouldn't say the problem, however, is that consumers don't want the content so much as the internet has instilled this attitude in people that content should be free.

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