Monday, June 27, 2011

The Future of Digital Publishing (Part One of Two)

Photo courtesy D Molyneaux Photography

Big Picture Perspective on Digital Publishing
There are no certainties when it comes to predicting the future, especially when it comes to digital publishing. Understandably, some prefer to sit back and see how this all plays out before launching headfirst into the unknown. It can’t hurt, however, to hear the perspective of some of the bigger players, gleaning tips where they apply to your business, storing the rest as knowledge of the bigger picture.

Luncheon with Editor in Chief
All of this is to say that there was much to be learned at the “Publishing in the Digital Age ” luncheon with Evan Hansen, editor-in-chief of It’s true, Hansen has a digital team that most small publishers in the audience could only dream of. There were, however, some broader themes to consider (and yes, more questions than answers).

Building Online Brand and Community
To the many magazine publishers in the audience, Hansen reassured them that print is still very much alive; that said, magazine publishers will have to start thinking of themselves as much more than print publishers in this digital era—it’s about building brand and developing community.

Questioning the Essence of the Magazine
Hansen highlighted how new forms of communications technologies are profoundly changing written culture; with the introduction of the iPad, for example, the mobile web traffic at went from 2% to 20% in less than one year. All of this raises conceptual concerns for our industry: What is the essence of a magazine? Can it exist on a mobile app, iphone, etc? How far can we push the notion of a magazine before it becomes something else entirely? What are the core values that need to be preserved?

Mobile Devices Monetizing Content
On the business side of things, Hansen sees the advent of mobile device capabilities as revolutionary for monetizing online. With apps, people are warming up to the notion of paying for content with their mobile devices; this shift to mobile consumption suggests that publishers must turn to these platforms as a way to recapture some of their online value. Hansen’s advice is to start small, with enhanced features for paid content, for example, and see how this plays out.

Stay tuned for Part Two of "The Future of Digital Publishing"...

--- Rebecca Lesser
AMPA Communications & Programs Coordinator