BookExpo America is upon us, and all the talk at the New York publishing fair is of booming e-book sales and where that leaves hardbacks and paperbacks.
Barnes & Noble, the bookstore chain whose digital prospects helped encourage John Malone to make a $1bn offer last week, is marking the occasion by unveiling a new model of its Nook e-reader on Tuesday morning. Kobo got in a day early with the launch of a new touch-screen version of its 6-inch e-ink reader on Monday. Read more
Few people outside the New York Times headquarters can have been happier to see the publisher announce its (very) long-awaited model for charging for online news last week than Steve Brill and Gordon Crovitz.
The founder of The American Lawyer and the former head of WSJ.com set out two years ago to persuade publishers around the world that such paid models were feasible, and to provide them with the software to implement them. Read more
When Beyond Oblivion broke cover last April even its founder, Adam Kidron, admitted that its plans for a digital music service that would make money from the 95 per cent of people who do not currently pay for downloads were “frightfully ambitious”. The service has yet to arrive – but at least Kidron now has some serious money to back his plans. Read more
Digital music services like MOG, Rdio and Rhapsody have been vocal about their fear that Apple’s subscription policy will ruin innovative companies already shouldering start-up losses, and the industry’s concern was again on display at the FT Digital Media and Broadcasting conference on Wednesday. Read more
Spotify has stayed silent about the impact of Apple’s new subscription plans, perhaps because it was too busy negotiating $100m in new funding, but MOG has now joined the list of digital media start-ups and venerable publishers expressing consternation and confusion.
“From a principle perspective, I have a problem,” says CEO David Hyman. “We’ve spent years building this, and invested millions. It’s not clear to me why they deserve a bigger piece of my business than I get. It doesn’t feel right at all.” Read more
Ongo, a digital news aggregator launching in the US on Tuesday, starts life with promising credentials. Not only does Alex Kazim, its founder and CEO, come with a revenue-generating background as head of marketing for PayPal and then president of Skype, but its $12m of Series A funding came from the top of the US newspaper pile: the New York Times, the Washington Post and Gannett, owner of USA Today. Read more
If you drop by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday January 19, you will find some great Henri Cartier-Bresson pictures and an interesting exhibition on “Voyeurism, surveillance and the camera since 1870”, but you won’t find Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch. Read more
“You shouldn’t have to have a PhD as a consumer to be able to figure out how to get this stuff,” Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner’s chairman and chief executive said at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Anyone trying to navigate through the forest of new entertainment devices and services unveiled at CES would sympathise, but for the media companies present the event served up a particularly complex mix of promise and challenges. Read more
With any Virgin launch, it is worth looking for the substance behind the hype guaranteed by Sir Richard Branson’s involvement. Tuesday’s unveiling of Project, billed as the first truly interactive magazine for the iPad age, was no exception.
Joined by Holly, his 29-year-old daughter who is leading the Project, er, project, the bearded balloonist happily played into the hands of reporters who have billed his pitch for Apple’s tablet as a battle of the billionaires with Rupert Murdoch, whose $30m iPad “newspaper”, The Daily, is expected early next year.
“This is not a battle. This is not a war. It’s about the future of publishing,” he said, before adding the jibe that 30 years of reading Mr Murdoch’s papers convinced him that his title would win “the battle of quality”. Read more
If you’ve been having trouble keeping up with Angelina, Brad and Jen on your iPad, then today is a day for rejoicing. People magazine has launched its iPad app, and its Sandra Bullock cover story (“The sexy single mom happily moves on – as ex Jesse James is spotted in Vegas with another woman,” etc.) looks very slick on it, too.
Why does this matter? First, consumer magazines don’t come bigger than People, so this will be a big test of the theory that tablet devices, with their page-flicking qualities and glossy rendering of images, hold particular promise for magazines.
But Rich Greenfield at BTIG Research has spotted something equally significant: existing print subscribers to the Time Inc-owned publication will be able to access People on the iPad for no extra cost. Read more