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Extra! Extra! Publishers must read all about it!

by Nitesh Patel | 2月 18, 2010

The iPad finally exists but its arrival will not save the publishing industry. A cautionary tale appeared on January 26 that should remind content owners that simply porting content to a new medium does not make it inherently valuable. New York Newsday, like so many other newspapers offered its journalistic prose to the masses free online until October 28, 2009 when it began charging non-newspaper subscribers $5 per week. After nearly three months, Newsday has amassed 35 subscribers. Yes, 35 subscribers! According to, a leading web traffic ranking web site, Newsday’s traffic has declined precipitously in the three months since it began charging non-subscribers. It now ranks as the 5,363rd most visited website down from a ranking of 2,502 before it started charging for access to its articles.In that time, local rivals still offering free content have increased their reach. The New York Post has improved its rank from 966 to 727 and the New York Times has also improved from 103 to 96. At least some of their advancement must be attributed to Newsday’s construction of a pay wall. Newsday has said its intention is not to build a subscriber business but instead add value for hard copy subscribers. Even if true, 35 subscribers is abysmal. As iPad availability looms, Newsday’s tale must convince publishers that free alternatives will persist and convincing consumers to pay for content – especially in digital form requires leveraging technology to enhance the experience. Simply offering a stylish digital bookshelf itself does not qualify as adequate value, especially when filling up those virtual shelves will now be more expensive (LINK). The New York Times’ iPad app which marries embedded video with text based articles is an interesting start. As was the Kindle’s daily automatic delivery of newspapers. But this is only a start. The envelope must continue to be pushed. Failure to do so will hasten the descent of print media and hinder the iPad’s success. Therefore, if publishers are expecting the iPad (or any future heretofore unknown technology) to save their business they are wrong. Print media must find ways to adapt to new technology instead of simply regurgitating printed articles while improving their business models to better align to the digital world or they too may discover their content is only worthy of 35 subscribers. Strategy Analytics will be publishing a report and forecast for eBooks and the business of digital publishing later this year.
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