Publishers Join Forces to Save Themselves with 'Hulu for Magazines'

Time Warner, Conde Nast, Meredith, Hearst and News Corp. have officially joined forces to create a new way to distribute digital versions of magazines. Forgive my skepticism, but I don't think selling digital magazines will save publishing.

First of all, these guys haven't done anything yet. They've just announced their plans to play nice and work together. Those demos we've seen? Those were done by individual companies, so they need to figure out a way to make everything standard.


And just where will these digital magazines be distributed? On the theoretical Apple Tablet? On the Kindle or Nook? None of these are great options. Apple, Amazon and Barnes and Noble are all pretty deeply in the content-delivery business, and they may not be all that excited to have these publishers invading their territory. And, well, the Kindle and Nook are in no way designed to handle the sort of multimedia package that we've seen demos of.

And all of this is based on the idea that people will actually be willing to pay for these "digital magazines," which I don't think they will be. The magazine industry seems to think that by taking content that works perfectly fine on websites—text, images and video—and mushing them into a weird version of page-based magazines, people will treat them like the old format and will be willing to pay for them. I doubt it. The traditional magazine format was designed for paper magazines, and that format doesn't make sense digitally.

But hey, maybe I'm dead wrong. They could make a super-slick program that works on upcoming tablets, making reading magazine articles an exciting venture that people will suddenly be willing to shell out money for. I just doubt it. [All Things D]

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