How Print Can Survive

There’s been a lot of talk about the iPad and how print publications are struggling with adapting to the new format, except for Wired that is.

Five major publishers are even spending $90 million in a campaign to, get this, tout the value of print advertising. They’re spending $90 million on this.

It’s 2010 and I’m guessing the people who place ads for Tide and HP computers have an idea of the value of print versus online already. Some fancy PRINT ADS telling them otherwise won’t make a difference.

I’d suggest these companies invest another $90 million into a tablet magazine format that makes them some money along with better websites and mobile sites.

As for how they make money, I have a pretty good idea.

Since almost every magazine I get at home (Money, ESPN, Car & Driver, Wine Spectator, All You) I get for free from online forms or some what not – I pay for Wired and EW – these magazines are wasting a lot of paper on a guy and his wife who may or may not read them at all. I barely have time to read ESPN for instance and most hit the recycling.

So how do you get casual magazine readers to pony up for online/mobile/tablet content? Through advertising and mass subscription prices. Meaning those five major publishers should set up a group price where you pay one monthly or annual fee for a certain number of titles. Like $5 for five titles a month, $10 for 12 titles a month and so on. It would cost less for annual subs, but they should lump them together to force more readership.

Since I pay $12 a year for Wired this isn’t a huge hit for them since a lot of costs come from ink and paper let alone shipping. I think at this price point they would get a lot of people testing out the new format and even accepting of ads inside the content. They could charge a premium for ad free subscriptions too.

The one big obstacle would be iTunes and its pricing structure. Maybe the publishers would be smarter, developing their own iPhone and iPad apps with that $90 million rather than putting their wares directly into the iTunes store. Who knows if Apple would even allow that though.

It’s interesting to think that even if the publishers were willing to be this aggressive, Apple may prevent the future of publishing because of its own profits. Of course, with the Luddite thinking of a $90 million ad buy to promote ad buys, I doubt the publishers have even asked Cupertino.