It’s no secret that we are in the digital age of media. What used to be a train full of newspaper-reading commuters has since turned into a sea of iPhones and e-readers. How are publishers handling this situation? And is there any turning back?
At a recent New York Women in Communications event, Cocktails & Conversations: Where is the Print Industry Going? we heard from some of the top ladies in publishing about their thoughts on the ever-changing media landscape.
Rebecca Blumenstein from the Wall Street Journal moderated the conversation between the panelists, which consisted of Ana Maria Allessi from HarperCollins Publishers, Susan Schulz from Cosmopolitan, and Julie Zhu from Barron’s and MarketWatch. The panelists gave us the scoop on strategies, content, and the industry’s outlook for the future.
Ana Maria Allessi, VP, Digital Innovation & Publisher, HaperAudio, HarperCollins Publishers
Allessi starts off saying that e-books are extremely popular. At first, people were reluctant to adapt to e-books, thinking that it would kill real books. It became like a cultural resistance. Now they’re seeing the two start to level out, with strong sales being reported at independent book stores as well as Barnes & Noble. “Seems like we’re all reading more,” she says.
In regards to her own personal news-reading habits, she has gone completely back to print. She describes it as kind of like the “shop local age.”
Schulz shared that college students (who you’d think would be pushing the digital trend) say they still love to buy their issues of Cosmopolitan on the newsstand. Despite that fact, Cosmo.com is increasing its Web traffic monthly, which is allowing the site to become its own entity.
For them, digital is opening up opportunities. The fact that they are investing in Cosmo.com helps, since everyone loves hearing stories. Through the website and social media, editors can post snippets of stories that entice readers to buy the magazine by directing them how to order once they’ve reached the end. Since part of the digital age is also that it allows people to feel involved, they use its digital presence on social media as a way to interact with its readers.
How does Schulz prefer to read? For her, reading in print is the way to go. The plus side of digital, though, is that it’s more portable and can be accessed anywhere, anytime.
Even though Barron’s has added a paywall to the site, Zhu says that they’ve still managed to remain successful. “Premium content overrules,” she says, explaining that people are willing to pay when they see value in your website’s content. If you continue to provide that perspective, you will continue to stay relevant.
Even though much of the content is behind a paywall, Barron’s still uses social media to share smart content, as well as blog posts from their own site. Using social media also helps them to drive subscriptions.
Print is still important for the brand, since it allows them to include articles and blog posts which complement one another. They’ve found that readers are highly engaged in content regardless of the platform.
Since Zhu describes herself as more of a digital person, she says that she gets much of her news from her iPad and iPhone – but she still does love to read a print magazine.
With WSJ a pioneers in the paywall, Blumenstein also believes that if you’re giving everything away for free it affects the content. Unique coverage needs to stay behind a paywall, but political and general news are more likely to be free.
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