Perhaps feeling the collective pinch of being in a dying industry, Conde Nast plans to do what they've been hinting at for weeks: Bring their magazines to the iPad.
The first magazines to hit the Ipod Touch XL from the publisher will be Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Glamour, the New York Times reports, based on a leaked memo.
A complete digital copy of Wired Magazine including their always-clever take on gaming? That would be fantastic, if it worked.
I've spent the past month or so looking at some of the magazine offerings on the iPhone, including GQ and, yes, Playboy, and I have to say, I'm not impressed. Some come off as elaborate ads for the print publication and others feel more like straight cut and paste jobs.
Granted, the Wired demo does offer new content, but it still feels like what I witnessed so many times in my years at newspapers: A dying medium trying desperately to reinvent itself before it's too late.
The problem with these print death throes is that they rarely come with necessary backing of the company that owns the publication. So Conde Naste, or the Rocky Mountain News, or countless other publications will tell their readers and their writers that they are fully supporting this news idea. But they won't put their money where their mouth is, no at least in a way that matters.
Take for instance most newspapers' shift to the web. A lot of papers decided to not only print their finished, print-edition story on the site, but also a slew of updates. But many of those same papers didn't hire anyone extra to help out. So you had a reporter filing a story and then being expected to refile multiple updates for the web edition, all while working their beat and the numerous other stories they were working on for the day.
And the move to the web wasn't the first time this happened. In Florida a collective of papers tried this same approach for radio and TV. The idea was a reporter would not only be responsible for their stories, but also for producing sound bites and video clips to be used on local television and radio stations. All of that extra work, but no meaningful increase in staff size or reduction in story count.
It's like trying to squeeze blood from a stone.
Now we have the ability for print publications to provide interactive news, videos, photos, community, but I suspect, and it's a total guess here, that the number of people working on that story won't increase substantially. True, the approach to Wired's production is different from the other magazines, but I can't imagine that will last without substantial increases in advertising or cost to the consumer.
The underlying problem here is that print publications want to reinvent themselves, but they want to do so without having to get to their feet and move. The notion of moving from a system established in the 17th Century is frightening to the companies behind print publications, not because of issues of print ethics or other high-ground moral standards, but because of the bottom line.
Condé Nast Is Preparing iPad Versions of Some of Its Top Magazines [New York Times]