The On-Going Debate About the Future of Print and Digital

In an entry on MediaShift titled iPads, Print-on-Demand Slowly Transform Magazines in 2010 by Susan Currie Sivek, the author writes:

This revolution is going to take its time.

It’s been a year of high expectations but little fulfillment for those who thought 2010 might forever change the way we read magazines. We’ve seen that disappointing uses of new tools, limited audience interest, and small initial financial returns are going to result in a gradual shift, not a sudden transformation.

The iPad certainly hasn’t made print magazines extinct, and in fact some of the early iPad efforts may even have discouraged readers a bit. Other developments in the magazine world — such as the Cooks Source incident and the growing power of social media — also suggest still more challenges and opportunities in the year to come.

Read the entire article here and join the debate by commenting below.


About Samir "Mr. Magazine™" Husni, Ph.D.

Samir Husni, aka Mr. Magazine™, is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. He is also Professor and Hederman Lecturer of Journalism at the School of Journalism and New Media. Dr. Husni is the author of the annual Samir Husni's Guide to New Magazines, which is now in its 28th year. He is also the author of Launch Your Own Magazine: A Guide for Succeeding in Today's Marketplace published by Hamblett House, Inc. and Selling Content: The Step-by-Step Art of Packaging Your Own Magazine, published by Kendall Hunt, Magazine Publishing in the 21st Century, published by Kendall Hunt, and co-author of Design Your Own Magazine. He has presented seminars on trends in American magazines to the editorial, advertising and sales staff of the magazine groups of the Morris Communications Company, Hearst Corp., Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, Meredith Corp., Reader's Digest Magazine, ESPN the magazine, Sail Magazine, American Airlines Publishing, the National Geographic Society, the Swedish magazine group Bonnier, the Finnish magazine group Sanoma Magazines, Southern Progress magazines, New South Publishing, Inc., the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of Magazine Editors, Vance Publishing Corporation, the Florida Magazine Association, The Magazine Association of Georgia, the National Society of Black Journalists, the Japanese Magazine Publishers Association, and the American Press Institute. He is "the country's leading magazine expert," according to Forbes ASAP magazine, "the nation's leading authority on new magazines," according to min:media industry newsletter; and The Chicago Tribune dubbed him "the planet's leading expert on new magazines." Dr. Husni has been interviewed by major U.S. media on subjects related to the magazine industry. He has been profiled and is regularly quoted in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other newspapers nationwide, as well as the major newsweeklies and a host of trade publications. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, CNNFN, PBS, and on numerous radio talk shows including National Public Radio's Morning and Weekend Editions. Dr. Husni has also served as an expert witness in several lawsuits involving major media corporations including Time Inc. and American Express Publishing among others. He has been a judge of The National Magazines Awards, The Evangelical Magazines Association, The City and Regional Magazines Association, and The Florida and Georgia Magazine Association Awards. Dr. Husni is the President and CEO of Magazine Consulting & Research, a firm specializing in new magazine launches, repositioning of established magazines, and packaging publications for better sales and presentations. Dr. Husni holds a doctorate in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in journalism from the University of North Texas. When he is not in his office reading magazines, Dr. Husni is at the newsstands buying magazines.
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31 Responses to The On-Going Debate About the Future of Print and Digital

  1. Bailey Sloan says:

    I have to agree with the argument that readers of magazines, no matter what the magazine, are not drawn into the visuals and the “difference” it is supposed to bring instead of the old school print. If the iPad is the latest hit, shouldn’t all the apps made for it be the same way? If writers, editors, etc. are trying to become experience makers and not just content providers then they should also be exceeding the readers expectations, especially on what is considered “the next best thing”. It also seems that using this for articles and pictures that are supposed to be YOUR work can easily turn into another person’s work. That is far from safe, legal, and fair. I can say that even though I am not an owner of the iPad, I would love to have something like Flipboard even on my laptop to help organize my social and school related networks.

    • Bruce Miller says:

      I was wondering what your talking about what your talking about when you say, “shouldnt all apps made for it be the same way?” Why do you think that, and are you talking about magazine apps?

  2. Matthew Jones says:

    I agree with the article in the aspect that it is still too early to judge whether or not the ipad, as well as other e-reader devices will change the magazine industry. I think they already have in a way, but to say they will completely change the way we read magazines might be a bit extreme. I just have a hard time believing that people who regularly buy the same magazine for $5 or $6 and usually pick it up when they are at the grocery store, will buy an electronic device to read the same magazine. I understand some these devices do more than just allow you to read more than just books and magazines. The “people” that I have been referring to are the ones that are typically older and aren’t as “tech savvy” as the youth. In reality, if you do read a lot of books and magazines it might be more economical for you to purchase an e-reader in the long run, but there is just no way to tell. There are also a lot of changes, as the article alludes to, that have to made to the devices and things that media industries will have to adapt to before it completely revolutionizes the way we read our books and magazines.

  3. Grace Pittard says:

    I agree with Bailey as well, I would love to have something similar to Flipboard to use, though I do not own an iPad. This article makes a good point about the fact that magazines were not strong in their displays on the iPad and that the experience was not over the top. Hearing that The Project magazine did not have great reviews, when it is made specifically for the iPad, also drives me away from wanting one too. The apps are the main reason for wanting an iPad, so if they can not meet our expectations it is disappointing. But just as the iPhone has been remodeled and improved, the iPad I’m sure will as well.

  4. Megan says:

    After reading the article I decided to get the Zinio app, seeing that I have never even read a magazine on my iPad before. Once I bought it and signed up for the app, it offered me a selection of free magazine subscriptions. I decided to get Cosmopolitan. I was surprised that Cosmopolitan was on there after hearing in my Journalism class, that it was one of the top selling magazines. I wondered why they would give in to being on the free subscription list. However, I got it anyways and began to read. I have to say, I wasn’t pleased with how it was set up at all. Seeing a magazine page by page instead of seeing a full layout in an actual magazine, made it lose its appeal entirely (in my opinion). When I got the Cosmopolitan subscription it offered me three free issues. I had already had this month’s issue and after reading it on my iPad I decided that I prefer reading an actual magazine rather than on a device such as the iPad.
    I also agree with Bailey, they should also be exceeding the readers expectations, especially on what is considered “the next best thing.” If the iPad is such a hit and is interfering with print, then it should have more to offer towards the reader. If they want to get ahead with the apps, then they should offer more of an experience rather than just being able to flip a page with a touch of your finger onto a screen. That isn’t enough to keep someone’s attention. If editors and what not want to go further with this idea then they should have some things offered only in the print version (to keep that up) and special features offered in the apps as well.

  5. Farrell Lawo says:

    In my opinion, I think that the iPad and other electronic reading devices will definitely change the magazine industry. Everyday people are coming up with different, new creative ways to grab our attention- like what the iPad, Kindle etc. have done today. Since this is basically just the start of online magazines- there is, without a doubt, going to be a dramatic change in the selling of physical copies of magazines. Just because some magazines weren’t strong in their displays on the iPad doesn’t mean they don’t have the ability to change and become more “visibly attractive” to readers but, they will definitely have to adapt to what people want to see and they way we want to read our magazines and books before there is a big change in the magazine industry.

  6. Sam Wilson says:

    Susan Currie Sivek points out a study where “users also said they would be most likely to buy news-related apps if the prices were lower than those for print subscriptions — not the same or higher, as the prices generally now are for magazine apps.” I completely agree with this. If I am going to pay 7 dollars for a single issue of a magazine I would much rather have a physical copy than an electronic copy. I would buy a magazine on the I-Pad if it was less expensive than the hard copy.

  7. Madison Featherston says:

    I think that tablets such as the iPad will eventually change the way consumers enjoy magazines, but it will take time and the magazines will need to continue altering the ways they are reaching the audience. While the iPad might not have had initial success, if the creators really want to be experience makers they will continue until they have reached success with the majority of readers, they will just have to keep trying new ideas that aren’t available with print issues. An example of this is how the December 2010 issue of Marie Claire that was released for the iPad featured a moving picture of Emma Watson on the cover, which is something that is unavailable with regular magazines. I think that as time goes on, and technology advances, the iPad will have much more success with magazine apps.

  8. Ramsay Quinn says:

    Having never owned an iPAD, I would suggest reading articles that are more tangible. But if you were to go the iPAD magazine route I would most definitely look into Flipboard. There has to be a better online server available for Steve Jobs to select where the general public can access catalog readings for a minimal cost. It’s revolutionalary how so many postings and interest there are and can be for such a high demand. We should all consider our own direction in outside resource sales, but once again if Mr. Jobs doesn’t approve, it ain’t happening. So what we all need to gather here is partnering with magazine companies to propose the most logistical approach to solving the iPAD crisis at a cost-efficient rate.

  9. Andrew Oswalt says:

    I think that iPAD has gotten magazine companies to think about how to present their magazines in a more iPAD friendly and interactive way. However i do not think the iPAD will be the best tablet in the future. It seems to me that it is a mere stepping stone for other companies to use as a guide for designing a better tablet. In saying this I know that it may very well be the more popular selection for a tablet in the future. The reason it will be the more popular selection is because Steve Jobs will advertise the hell out of what ever new iPAD he puts out there. This is evident in the advertising he did for the iPOD which made it very popular because it seemed almost like it was the only device that could store and play mp3s. In other words just cause its popular and all your friends have it doesn’t mean its the best product of its kind out there.

  10. Katie Williamson says:

    I am still not convinced that the iPAD will ever be able to replace or compete with an actual magazine. This new platform needs to be utilized in other ways. These debates remind me of the Linda Magazine App. It is a supplement to the actual paper magazine and not a magazine itself. You can download a video of an attractive man telling you an amazing compliment. It is fun and captures the spirit of the magazine and uses the unique functions of an iPhone (which in my opinion is an exact miniature replica of an iPAD.) I agree with Sivek about now being the opportune time to experiment with the iPAD. I am anxious to see what happens in the next year.

  11. Mary Cosby Parker says:

    Although I have an Ipad, I personally would rather have a “hard copy” of a magazine or book to read from. I just got the Ipad at christmas so I have not downloaded many apps yet. However, I am disappointed to know that the apps are not up to date. For the price my parents paid for the pad, it should be as up to date as possible.

  12. Bentley Harvey says:

    Personally, I don’t think it is practical to pay between $300-$800 for and Ipad that doesn’t even have up-to-date apps or apps that are actually fully compatible for the Ipad. Think of how many books/magazines/newspapers one could buy with $300-$800 dollars that they would instead be wasting (in my opinion) on the Ipad, and not to mention having to then pay for most apps….that may not even work. I do think that soon many more Ipad models will be made and the glitches in the apps will be fixed, but for now I think I could spend money on more important things.

  13. Holly Crosthwait says:

    In my opinion, I don’t think that people will ever abandon reading paper books or magazines. But, I do think that as time goes by, more people will be open to an additional way of viewing print media. Right now, the iPad is often criticized for its lack of apps or cost of apps, but this is just the beginning. Technology will advance, and there will be many improvements that we will see in the future. The iPad and other similar devices will definitely enhance the way we experience print media.

  14. Elizabeth O'Connell says:

    I don’t have an iPad, so I can’t speak from experience, but I don’t see any reason why I need to get one now. I can get everything I want from a magazine, either on the internet or in a hard copy. I’m sure eventually I will get an iPad, not because they are a necessity, but just because I’m sure the price will go down in the next few years, and it seems like a fun thing to have. Magazines don’t seem to offer any better of an experience through the iPad than through a simple hard copy.

  15. Kristin Mathis says:

    I do not have an iPad and I feel silly expressing my opinions about it, since I technically can not relate to what journalist are saying about it. However from what I have learned in class and after reading both arguements about the iPad, I would have to agree with this article. I agree that publishers need to adjust to their readers expectations and that their readers are buying and reading their magazines and newspaper from their iPads, smart phones and internet. For example, if a person has an app for Cosmopolitan but is not satisfied with the formats and advertisment they are used to seeing in paper magazines, the publishers for Cosmopolitan need to innovate and create new ways that appeal to their readers. It seems that this is the major problem magazines are facing with the rapid growth in today’s technology, and if the iPad, smart phones and internet are truly the future for magazines and newspapers, to keep this buisness going publishers need to think out of the box and develope magazines that appeal to their readers.

  16. Frank Lawler says:

    I for one have never used an Ipad, but the article did talk about how people that use the ipad to read magazines and newspapers don’t find it that much better than reading a magazine or newspaper in print. From my knowledge of the ipad, i would rather have the magazine in print because i just like to hold the magazine as a read it. As for newspapers, i usually refer to online news sources to get the latest news. I think the magazine industry will still be able to succeed for the most part regardless of the ipad. As for the newspaper, it has been in a decline for a while due to TV and internet so i think the ipad will take a huge bite out of the newspaper industry.

  17. Rigby Porter says:

    In my opinion, reading a magazine on paper is way better than trying to hold up an Ipad and read it from there. Even though I myself do not own an Ipad I have used my mom’s to read a magazine before and it is just not the same experience as flipping through a magazine. Why waste hundreds of dollars on something that isn’t even much better than the real thing?

  18. Suzanne Coulter says:

    Although so many people have given into the iPad frenzy, I think that the idea of it is more intriguing than the actual device. Everyone has been so excited to get the new hot gadget from Apple; however, once they get it it isn’t as cool as they once thought it was due to all of the complications.

  19. Mary Liz Cronk says:

    I think it is inevitable for people to react when new technology comes out. People are finding it hard to alter their daily routine of flipping through print magazines and newspapers and switching to the iPad, but like always, I think that Apple will eventually produce applications that customers will find much more easy to use. I believe that print will never be dead- but that there will continue to be a lot more ways that we can read the news. It is up to the individual which medium is right for them.

  20. Haley Morgan says:

    Even though i own an iPad, i have not bought the app for magazines. I would rather buy the magazine at the store and have my own copy. I do think that in the future, the iPad will have an effect on the magazine industry. There will always be those people who would rather have the magazine itself, like I would, rather than on the iPad. Since my family owns an iPad and all four of us have our own computer, I do not necessarily see the necessity of owning one. I have not been able to play around with it as much as I would like to. Since i already own a laptop and a phone like the iPhone, I don’t understand why one would think they need to own an iPad, and I think many people believe that as well. I have also talked to some of my friends who do not own iPads, but they do own the laptop and iPhone, and they agree with me.

  21. Camille Condrey says:

    i think advertisers will really like the idea of advertising through digital magazines on the iPad more and more as it gets easier and easier. Especially with the new iAd that Apple is creating. Advertisers will most likely be able to come up with a lot of new and creative ways to digitally advertise to readers and once readers see ads on the iPad version of a magazine they can quickly go straight to a website for that product while still on their iPad instead of having to consciously remember an ad they liked and then have to find out more about it later.

  22. Michala Burman says:

    With the new advertising techniques being updated, I think the Ipad will grow with time. The iAd will allow advertisers to more easily get there product out there and increase digital sales. With the innovation of iAd, consumers will be able to buy magazine subscriptions more easily and in less time.

  23. Hillary Houston says:

    The iPad is indeed a new invention that needs to be utilized, but I am still a firm believer that it could never replace the paper format of print. This platform is still an elitist and innovator. The masses met by paper worldwide is no comparison to the iPad. The iPad is a look into the future, but by no means is the death of paper.

  24. Katherine Ridgeway says:

    I feel that the makes of the ipad need to take a look into how they are managing the ipad. Magazines sales on the ipad are dropping drastically. Costumers do not feel that paying for a magazine on the ipad is worth the cost. With Apple make a 30 percent commission, they need to take a step back and seriously look at what isn’t working. If they continue as they are they will lose costumers.

  25. Elliott Anderson says:

    New innovations like the iPad or Kindle no doubt have their place, but I firmly believe that for a long time to come there will be a solid group of people who simply prefer the aesthetics of an actual piece of paper in their hands. These new technologies will only improve with time with the help of advertisers and I look forward to jumping on the bandwagon as soon as they advance just a little bit more.

  26. Laura Quittmeyer says:

    So far it sounds like the iPad just hasn’t settled in well, I think if they fix a few consumer problems it will thrive. If they made magazines more appealing to the eye for viewers, they would be willing to pay for the application and would receive more satisfaction from it. Advertising through the iPad is very smart, I think any type of electronic advertisement is always good when what you want to look at is just a click away.

  27. Leah Tracy says:

    I personally do not agree that new technologies such as the ipad will totally change the magazine business. I have an ipad and still when I go to the store I buy my regular magazines. Although having the ability to be able to access magazines right on your ipad is very useful, I believe it is not the same as having the magazine in hand. I may not be a technology savvy, but owning a smart phone and an ipad I still like to read an actual news paper, or pick up an actual magazine. I don’t believe that anyone can argue that technology is not going to change the future of how people get there news or gossip, but I think that personal preference of having the actual print in hand will keep magazines around.

  28. Sydnee Stafford says:

    I believe that the iPad will not change the magazine industry. Too many people are so used to reading an actual hard copy of magazines, they have subscribed and enjoy being about to actual hold it in their hand and read it. However, it is much easier to read a magazine on the computer for people who have busy schedules but I don’t think it is very appealing to many.

  29. Paris Crawford says:

    Personally, I would rather read paper magazines than digital articles. However, the convenience of reading digital magazines while on the go is rather appealing to some. Hopefully these innovations will not impact the future of print drastically.

  30. Courtney Smith says:

    I think that I would rather read physical articles that online articles because, computers and what not can be hacked and information can be changed within the blink of an eye and people would read it and wouldn’t know any difference.

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