On Thursday, February 8, 2007, Arthur Sulzberger Jr, owner and chairmen of the New York Times told the Haaretz news that in five years, the print version of the NYT would be relevant no longer. The profits for NYT have been shrinking for the past four years and its market share is too.
Sulzberger believes that in today’s world, the internet is where it is at. While print revenues are down, internet readership is increasing. The Times has more online readers per day than it has print subscribers. 1.5 million online v. 1.1 million subscribers.
Josh Noreum, a former Maximum PC writer, wrote that due to print costs and declining subscribership, print magazines in the tech sector were no longer viable. Consumers head to the web to find out the latest news. Mr. Norem sites three reasons for this:
- Delay. Consumers do not want to wait from month to month to obtain the latest hardware, software news. These days when Engadget and Gizmodo do live bloggings of events like MacWorld or daily updates of the Consumer Electronics Show, it is hard to see where a magazine would be relevant when it releases its monthly issue weeks after the actual event.
- Space. Magazines are quite expensive and every page is paid for by ad revenue. The more ad revenue, the larger the magazine. The less ad revenue, the less space a magazine has to tell the story. With the web, there are no such limitations.
- Cost. It’s dramatically cheaper to run a website than print a magazine or a newspaper. Sulzberger stated
The last time we made a major investment in print, it cost no less than $1 billion. Site development costs don’t grow to that magnitude.”
Jonathan Simpson Bint, President of Future US, which owns Maximum PC, Official X-Box magazine, and PC Game, says that the future is Web Publishing.
How does that impact the fiction reading world? The greater number of individuals who begin to obtain their reading material online or in the “e-form”, the greater number of individuals who will turn to buying fiction ebooks. There has been talk about an ebook revolution for almost 10 years but adoption of the ebooks as a mainstream medium has been slow.
With major newspapers and perhaps even magazines moving toward an online only format, surely ebook adoption would occur at a greater rate than currently. In recent Association of American Publisher numbers, ebook sales have increased by 24%.
There are several companies trying to provide that perfect content holder. One new one is the rollable screen from Telecom Italia and Polymer Vision. The rollable screen is designed for cell phones to increase the viewing space without increasing the size. It will be introduced next week during the 3GSM World Congress. (Thanks, Sara).
I don’t know that anyone has gotten the right combination of form and factor. Sony is close. As I sit by the pool, it’s clarity is amazing. At night, however, I still struggle with lighting issues. Maybe it will take 5 years to get that perfect combination of form and function, but I do think the ebook revolution is closer. When the NYTimes goes Web only, I can imagine that other newspapers will be close behind.
Consumers will read their information on their ereading devices and we’ll be one step closer to those futuristic visions that JD Robb and Jayne Ann Krentz write about. The question thus remains, should I hold on to my hundreds of mass market paperbacks? Those futuristic books always say that the rich have the paper books. Maybe I’ll save those books and fifty years from now, we romance readers will be revered for our preservation of the print book.