Joe Wikert’s Magazine System

Joe Wikert works for O’Reilly Media Inc. and has an excellent pulpit at Publishing 2020 Blog. Yesterday he was blogging about his ideal magazine system.

Once upon a time I subscribed to more than a dozen different magazines. Keeping up was overwhelming at times, particularly since many of those magazines were a half-inch thick or more. (Anyone remember the good old days when Wired used to have some serious heft?!) Now I can count my magazine subscriptions on one hand. I still crave the content and the writers, but I prefer to read this information sooner than the print model allows. (A Model for the Magazine Industry)

The Exact Editions system gets close to being in his plan for the magazine industry, but we are missing the target on some of his goals:

  1. Joe wants to have access (so that he can choose) to every magazine on the planet. Steady on Joe, do you mean that the system should support every magazine in every language?Tthat is a pretty big number. We are talking maybe 20 or 30,000 consumer and special interest magazines world wide. Long way to go! This is what I would call a reasonable unreasonable goal. But, I agree with Joe that this has to be the distant target: consumers will want a magazine system to support them if they decide that they want to read Spanish-language, English-language and Japanese-language magazines on a mix and match basis.
  2. Joe wants to be able to read the whole magazine exactly as it is, the full contents, on his preferred device. We can comply with that and the Exact Editions system also provides access to the archived issues to all current subscribers. The archive will go back as far as the magazine publisher has provided us with PDF files. So the Exact Editions system is possibly giving Joe more than he asked for. Archives are easy for digital editions.
  3. But archives are available because the consumers subscribe to magazines as branded entities. Joe Wikert is looking for a system which would allow him to have roaming access to any magazine that he chooses month by month (admittedly for a pretty high ‘eat all you can’ price of $50 a month). Selling a revenue-sharing model to magazine publishers for this universal access scheme is going to be a tough proposition.
  4. Joe wants his system to deliver the content wirelessly to his various devices. Exact Editions can comply with that, provided that the device supports a standard web browser. PC, Mac, netbook, iPhone, Wii — sure those devices are all fine (Joe may not yet be using the Wii for his magazine reading but he should try it out now). The problem for us is the Kindle. We dont yet support the Kindle, but I am confident that Exact Editions will support the Kindle just as soon as it supports standard web browsing and sells its platform in the European market from where most of our current magazines are sourced. It would be nice if the Kindle also had colour. Consumer magazines really need colour.

On one point, we completely agree with Joe Wikert. Magazine publishers absolutely need to get their digital offerings in place fast. At a price and in a format which all their consumers can enjoy.

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