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Are magazines this desperate in tablet era?

01 Nov

I had meant to publish this last week. The topic been on my mind as the print vs digital tension grows every day.

Every time I travel I do an unscientific check of the readers on the plane. I always find that newspapers and magazines beat digital platforms. Twice I’ve sat next to someone with a digital device – a Kindle and an iPad — and one of them showed me how the magazine reading experience with the ads, photos and all was awesome. The features, too!

This kerfuffle over GQ’s photo spread seems to suggest something I typically refuse to believe –magazine junkie that I am –that magazines will try anything to stay alive.

The photos that have angered many, are part of a story on Glee, the TV show. Why? They a dangerously seem to promote pedophilia. The Parent’s Television Council (PTC) has come out strongly against the issue.

Are magazines that desperate? Or is being borderline something, anything the only way to stay relevant? This is not the stuff of controversial magazine covers, a common technique since George Lois’ time, and before.

Maybe some magazines are engaging this kind of  risky business as they find their footing in the myriad of digital platforms available. Two clues as to where this is headed:

  • New Niches: See this interview by  Tom Wallace, the Conde Nast editorial director. He talks about using digital to reach audiences that magazines have been unable to reach. Maybe next year this time my in-flight survey will have different results…
  • Rich Platforms: Apple may be offering struggling pubs a lifeline with their  ‘rich-media wrappers for e-books and e-magazines.’ The iPad is obviously a precursor to the new home of –and reading experience –for magazines.

So indeed, magazines need not be so desperate. For now, some of them are just borderline …obnoxious.

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Posted by on November 1, 2010 in Marketing, Media

 

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