If there’s one thing putting a spring in the step of publishers this summer and giving them just a little more impetus to initiate summer hours and “get away from the hustle and bustle of the city” by having their driver take them to their house on the Hamptons, it’s the iPad. Is there anything this thing can’t do? Absolutely not, because publishers are flocking to it in droves in an effort to save their falling circulation numbers.
To wit, the nut of this story is that the Wall Street Journal will cost $17.99 a month on the iPad, considerable savings over the $2 cover price. This subscription will presumably include all of the graphics and layouts that make the Journal famous as well as ads – lots of expensive, sweet ads. For example, “Unilever, Toyota Motor , Fidelity Investments” is paying Time magazine $200,000 for eight display ads in the iPages of Time magazine. That’s for eight issues, mind you, which breaks down to $25,000 an issue. $25,000 was probably the haircut budget for the ad staff at Time Inc. How can they buy a Ski-doo for their next Vail trip with that kind of money?
I’m of two minds when it comes to who’s going to survive the death of print and the rise of the ereader. I think we’re on the an MP3-style cusp. These past few years, with the Kindle leading the charge, have been the Napster days of online reading. Back then, MP3s were exotic, odd, and hard to handle. Then Apple comes along and changes all that. Overnight, grandma is thinking about picking up the new Jennifer Crusie book on an ereader and now you’re going to have to tell her what to buy. And what are you going to tell her to buy? It won’t be the the Amazon’s version of the 2010 Rio Volt MP3 CD Player. It will be the shiny thing from Apple.
That said, will the old brands make the move? Probably. I’d pay $1.99 for a new issue of GQ, for example, that I can read on the plane. Heck, I’d pay $19.99 for a 12-month subscription, just like I do in meatspace. And publishers will have a new set of metrics (and will probably discover that their circulations were vastly underreported.) I also thing sites like this one and big daddy TC will have a place at the table, although we haven’t yet picked out the China pattern or the menu.