Once upon a time, Jann Wenner started a little music magazine called Rolling Stone. When the internet arrived, he shrugged his shoulders and tossed up a half-baked website. Now, with tablets on the rise, he’s downright disinterested in digital magazines.
Wenner concedes that tablets are good reading devices, but believes it’s still not yet easier or more convenient to read than a paper magazine
I don’t think that gives you much advantage as a magazine reader to read it on the tablet — in fact less so. It’s a little more difficult.
From the publisher’s point of view I would think they’re crazy to encourage it. They’re going to get less money for it from advertisers. Right now it costs a fortune to convert your magazine, to program it, to get all the things you have to do on there. And they’re not selling. You know, 5,000 copies there, 3,000 copies here, it’s not worth it. You haven’t put a dent in your R&D costs.
Furthermore, he believes it will take decades for digital magazines to really supplant the traditional magazine from a financial and cultural standpoint.
Not months. Decades, probably. People’s habits will shift, they’ll make improvements in the delivery system, the screen will change, it will get lighter, whatever, and new people growing up will find that as a habit. But you’re talking about a generation at least, maybe two generations, before the shift is decisive.
And ultimately he attributes the digital magazine craze to fear and insecurity over the alleged death of the magazine. And maybe he’s right. The iPad might not change Rolling Stone. But it’s hard to think that plenty of newcomers won’t reap the benefits of the nascent format. [AdAge]
Original image via Jann Wenner/Baron Wolman