The upcoming release of the Apple iPad has many in the publishing industry wondering what it will mean for their business. The device’s ability to integrate print with digital content through the Internet has some publishers excited about its prospects.
Transcontinental Media’s vice president of digital initiatives, Stéphane Gagné, says the iPad will kick-off the next evolutionary stage of e-readers.
“We are not in the business of magazines anymore, we’re in the business of content,” he says. “The potential is pretty much limitless, it’s up to your imagination to do whatever you want.”
New media journalist and web strategist, Amber MacArthur, says the iPad will help join the print and web content worlds. “I don't think it's as easy as simply putting a magazine PDF on a website for folks to read,” she says. “Magazine publishers will need to develop additional content that enhances the online magazine reading experience.”
Rogers’ senior vice president and general manager of digital media, Claude Galipeau, says the iPad’s capabilities offer “new opportunities to advertisers as well as editorial writers, photographers, videographers, and graphic designers.” Titles like Maclean’s and Canadian Business will be able to bring readers breaking news and customized online content using audio and video.
Galipeau says the iPad also presents a new retail outlet for magazines that will bring in new types of payments, like micro transactions. Plus, the new medium allows for more engaging advertisements, “We expect to work with our ad clients and agency partners in developing new interactive ad formats,” he says.
Rogers’ wants its digital content to be available and customized for all major new platforms including the iPad, Galipeau says. “We will produce for all devices with our content offerings,” he says. “We will be ‘platform specific,’ rather than agnostic. This allows us to best meet the expectations of users and ad clients.”
Although the iPad is impressive, Gagné says Transcontinental is remaining cautious for the time being. “For us it’s a space that we definitely know we will have to be in. But it’s a bit nascent still,” he says. “If you invest too early and you’re not picking the right horse, you’re doomed.”
Magazines Canada CEO Mark Jamison’s enthusiasm is similarly subdued. He says industry consensus still suggests that it will be a while before e-readers “move beyond being the experimental toy of early adopters.”
Several key issues remain unresolved on these new platforms, says Jamison. “Especially when it comes to how publishers will be able to retain control of their data, lead generation and customer info.”
To lure publishers, Gagné says any new device must have traction with consumers, a publisher-friendly distribution model and an open platform for development.
However, even with dazzling new gadgets on the horizon, “print remains the strongest platform preferred by readers,” Jamison says, “given the growth we have seen in the number of magazines as well as the readers over the last several years.”
“Print isn’t going to be replaced, in fact it will remain a key driver to web-based products,” he says.MacArthur agrees that there is still strength in the print medium. “As for the future of reading, I do believe that people will always want to read physical books,” she says. “But if a device like the iPad makes the reading experience accessible and enjoyable, I do think you'll see many readers drawn to the new Apple device.”