Saturday, June 16, 2012

eBook Revenues Top Hardcover

TechCrunch reporting:
Net sales revenue from eBooks have surpassed hardcover books in the first quarter of 2012.
According to the March Association of American Publishers (AAP) net sales revenue report (collecting data from 1,189 publishers), adult eBook sales were $282.3 million while adult hardcover sales counted $229.6 million during the first quarter of 2012. During the same period last year, hardcover accounted for $335 million in sales while eBooks logged $220.4 million.
Here’s more from the report (Q1 2012 chart embedded above): “In Q1 2012, net sales revenue for eBooks was higher than that for Hardcover; this represents a switch of  positions in the category vs Q1 2011.  In both quarters, however, Trade Paperback remained a clear #1 in net sales revenue despite some erosion. While eBooks continue to show growth, downloaded audiobooks also keep accelerating vs last year – as some experts have said, tied to ongoing popularity and acquisition of smartphones and mobile devices.”

At the same time, the YA/Children’s category saw hardcover growth.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How Rodale approaches tablet design

emedia/vitals reporting:
The rise of the tablet edition has arguably placed the biggest operational burden on a publication’s design staff. Publishers are addressing tablet edition staffing, skills and budget issues through plenty of trial and occasional error.
At Rodale, tablet editions have spurred the creation of a dedicated interactive design team that serves the enthusiast publisher’s Healthy Living Group, which includes Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention and Organic Gardening. Sean Bumgarner, the group’s interactive design director, leads an eight-person team that focuses exclusively on tablet editions. The group, with a mix of full-time and freelance staff, works closely with the brands but has tablet-specific expertise.
Deciding whether to keep app design and development in-house is one of the key decisions publishers face as they build up their mobile offerings. Some prefer to outsource all aspects of mobile app development to remain focused on their core competency: content development. Others attempt to layer mobile onto existing design and production workflows – often placing an undue burden on existing staff. Still others, like Rodale, have created dedicated digital edition teams, which tend to have a little more freedom to experiment with new techniques and are not hidebound by traditional print conventions.
“We have experts with the technology who work with the experts on the brand experience,” Bumgarner said in a recent phone interview. “This allows us to be more agile, more responsive and more thoughtful about our digital editions.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Politico set to hire over 40 new staff to expand premium coverage

WanIfra reporting:
It was a Washington story broken by The New York Times: Politico, the D.C.-based digital source of 24-hour political news, will take on more than 40 new employees – at least 20 on each the editorial and business sides – before September.
While the official announcement took place this morning, Politico acknowledged on its website that Christine Haughney of The New York Times broke the news Sunday night.
The expansion will be in the breadth of coverage offered to subscribers to Politico Pro, Politico’s premium service aimed at the site's “core readers,” who have a deeply rooted interest in policy — not to mention deep pockets. The service, which costs $8,500 per month for a five-person subscription, will add new verticals — on defense and finance — to the three originals: energy, health care and transportation. The new package will cover financial services and tax policy, wrote Editor-in-Chief John Harris, Executive Editor Jim VandeHei, and COO Kim Kingsley in a co-signed email to Politico’s staff on Sunday night.
Launched in 2011, Politico Pro was based on a “bet” that the Washington-focused political news provider’s “core readers would pay for access to intense, Politico-style coverage of Washington’s most important policy issues,” said the email, published in full on, and signed “John, Jim, Kim.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why MIT’s Technology Review is going digital first

gigaom reporting:
Magazines and newspapers of all kinds have been experimenting with paywalls, iPad apps and other methods of handling the ongoing disruption that the web and digital media have produced, but very few have taken a fully “digital first” approach. MIT’s well-respected Technology Review magazine has become the latest to embrace that principle, and editor Jason Pontin says that while he isn’t turning his back on print, it is no longer the most important medium for the brand of journalism his magazine practices. I talked with Pontin on Monday about the decision, as well as several related questions — including his dislike of paywalls and what he wants to implement instead.
In a note to readers published on the site, Pontin said that everything the magazine produces will be published free-of-charge on the website and will appear there first — in other words, nothing will be “saved” for the printed version of the magazine, as some publications do in order to give the print version some sense of exclusivity. Some stories and content will be published first online and later in print, and others will be published simultaneously in a number of different media. And print will be just one of many forms, he said:
For us, print will be just another platform [and] by no means the most important. I began as a traditional print journalist, and I still delight in what print does well. But there’s almost nothing… that print now does best.

The web is better partly because it has links...


How David Simon is wrong about paywalls

CJR reporting:
David Simon is a talented writer and storyteller, but is he qualified to give advice to publishers about how to save their dying industry?
As qualified as anybody else, I suppose. But when he suggested in a recent piece for CJR that people like me who disagree with his position on paid content were unqualified, that got under my skin a bit. Simon wrote, “These folks (paywall opponents) don’t understand the first thing about actual journalism.” He also lumped us in with an imaginary crowd of people who supposedly think amateurs can replace professionals, though we take no such position.
I decided to step back and lay out my thoughts in a more organized fashion. First, Simon and I agree: that journalism is important. That newspapers giving their content away for free online is a bad idea. That investigative/enterprise journalism is expensive. That the beat system plays an important role in watchdog journalism, and beat journalism requires paid professionals who are in it for the long haul.
That said, there are at least 10 arguments against paywalls.
1. The New York Times is a poor model on which to judge the success of paid content.
The Times is unique. It isn’t a local paper. Even the New York news covered by the Times has more national gravitas than local flavor. The Times has a global audience, and as a truly outstanding journalistic institution it has some key advantages: Namely, it comes closer than most other outlets to producing journalism on a consistent basis that people will actually pay for; and it produces journalism that people all over the world will consistently link to. These are powerful forces for creating the kind of added value that might lead to paid subscriptions.
3. Even if a paywall alone can’t support big-time metro journalism, the early returns show no signs of slowing the bleed out.
One of the best and smartest metro newspaper editors of the past couple of decades, John Robinson, has said newspaper paywalls are a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.
It’s an assessment backed by some hard facts.
While the Dallas Morning News logged 50,000 subscribers, it’s unclear how many of those are mere up-sells from print subscribers (hardly counting, then, as online-only revenue and loyal digital subscribers). The paper also saw monthly pageviews drop by 9 million. Consequently, digital revenue was down 11 percent to $7.8 million. The paper’s parent company, Belo, reported a net loss in the first quarter of $3.9 million. Meanwhile, the newspaper is spending $4 million a year to promote online subscriptions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Seven tips in digital storytelling from the New York Times and CNN reporting:
"We are in a golden age of storytelling" was the message shared by the New York Times's assistant managing editor Jim Roberts early on in a session at the News World Summit today named 'Obituary: The death of the traditional news story".
For Roberts, this "death" was not something he is particularly worried about - as opposed to the risks being faced by foreign correspondents and issues relating to press freedom. When it comes to the evolution of the news story he said journalists have an "infinitely flexible" and "limitless" toolbox they can use "to employ their craft" on digital platforms.
Roberts was joined in the session by CNN International's vice president of digital Peter Bale, who also spoke about the opportunities in digital storytelling to help journalists witness, create, curate, experiment, monetise and feed curiosity - although he made it clear there are no certainties in this at the moment.
Here are seven of the key takeaways from this session, based on the advice and examples shared by Roberts and Bale:
  • 1. Consider everything as a possible story lead
Roberts spoke about how editors must be open to considering everything from a Lady Gaga tweet, to a collection of uploaded footage showing a massacre, as "at least being part of the story if not the story itself".
  • 2. Be comfortable across publishing formats
Journalists must be just as comfortable communicating to their audience within the confines of a 140 character tweet as they are through a 4,000 word article, Roberts added.
  • 3. Incorporate live feeds into main narratives
Roberts said the New York Times, along with other news outlets (such as ITV News), have worked to find ways to pull together, often in live formats, the mass of information available in breaking news situations, to "filter to an extent to get rid of noise and find best signals".

But the challenge is then how to incorporate these feeds into the main narratives online, he added.

"It's clear to me that even at their best these live news blogs or feeds … are lucky to come close to matching the speed Twitter is able to react to events", with social media platforms becoming the news homepage for many people.

News apps are starting to update content when users change location

Poynter reporting:
A trendy new feature is starting to spread in iPhone news apps: Automatic downloading of the latest content based on a user’s location.’s Paperboy feature lets a user designate his home location, and updates the content automatically whenever he leaves home. pioneered the approach last month with a feature nicknamed “Paperboy,” which lets a user set her home location so the app can download the latest stories whenever she heads out. Now Instapaper has incorporated a similar feature that lets readers set up to 10 locations (home, work, gym, etc.) that should trigger the app to download any newly saved articles.
Why is that useful? It ensures a user has the latest content on her device before she gets on a subway, airplane or other places with no connectivity. It also gets around Apple’s once-a-day limit on how often apps can download new content “in the background” on a device. With this approach, background downloading can happen multiple times as a user travels.
Location-based downloading takes advantage of “geofencing” technology built into iOS since version 4.0.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Going 'digital first' requires reinvention, not merely a shift or transition

WanIfra reporting:
Everyone defines "digital first" a little bit differently, said Jim Brady, editor-in-chief at Digital First Media in the US, but what is important is that a switch to digital first involves real changes, not just rhetoric. Brady was speaking in Paris at a conference organized by the Online News Association and GESTE, a French online publishers group.
Going digital first is not a “shift” or a “transition:” it requires a reinvention of your operation, he said. And this can work, he emphasised. Under the leadership of CEO John Paton, the Journal Register Company (now part of Digital First Media) went from bankruptcy in 2009 to earnings of $41 million in 2010, and 30% of its revenue now comes from digital, up from 5%.
Digital First Media now runs the JRC and MediaNews Group: a total of 75 dailies and about 250 weeklies.
Brady pointed out that figures from Pew’s State of the News Media project show that, at least in the US, more and more people are accessing news online and it is extremely unlikely that the trend will reverse. Digital first is therefore the strategy for the future, he believes, and he warned about waiting until it’s too late to change course.
Brady stressed the often un-tapped potential of digital for news. “The newspaper used to be the best way we could present the news,” he said, “but now we can reach the consumer 24 hours a day wherever they are.” What’s more, the web is the first real “shape-shifter,” he continued, “it can be whatever you want it to be: a newspaper, a TV, a radio.” The web allows everybody to break out of their traditional silos.
The practicalities of going digital first at JRC/Digital First Media:
-       All of DFM’s newsrooms are staffed to start at 6am. “This means we have fewer people on the paper but we have to start the day when people wake up,” Brady said.
-       Stories are not held for print. “I never get a good answer to why people what to break in print,” he continued.
-       Journalists receive a good deal of training, and crucially, they are made to understand why they are doing it and how it can improve their work
-       What readers think is important. Brady emphasized the necessity to embrace the two-way nature of digital, and to make readers feel a true connection to the publication.
-       A story doesn’t have to include text, if a video or photos can tell it better. “We shoot about 1000 videos a week at JRC,” Brady said.

Newspapers Cut Days From Publishing Week

NYT reporting:
The news waits for no one. But newspapers might start asking readers to — at least for print copies.
The Calgary Herald is planning to scrap its Sunday edition.
Almost two weeks ago, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, which is owned by Advance Publications, announced that it would cut back its print schedule to just three days a week. Within hours, its sister publications The Birmingham News, The Press-Register of Mobile and The Huntsville Times followed suit. Four days later, Postmedia announced that three of its papers, The Calgary Herald, The Edmonton Journal and The Ottawa Citizen would all eliminate their Sunday editions.
Newspaper executives across the industry lament the loss of the daily print paper, but concede they might follow the same path. John Paton, chief executive officer of Digital First Media, which operates 75 daily newspapers, said he would consider reducing his print schedule when there was enough digital advertising to support it.
“I’m a career newspaperman. I feel the emotional tug. My father was a printer. I get it,” Mr. Paton said. “If you care about journalism, you’ve got to do this.”
By cutting back on print publishing, newspaper executives are betting they can wean loyal customers and advertisers from their daily print newspaper habit, while at the same time driving them to their own Web site. Some industry analysts warn that readers raised on a daily newspaper appearing at their door will lose a sense of loyalty if it arrives only a few days a week. It is like having CBS and NBC going dark on nights when they do not sell much advertising. 

Local newspapers' crisis: what hyperlocal means, and why it works

The Guardian reporting:
Today's extract from What do we mean by local?* is by Ross Hawkes, the founder of the hyperlocal news website Lichfield Live. He is also a senior journalism lecturer at Staffordshire university.
He argues that journalists working for traditional "big media", through a culture of centralisation, have become too remote from their audiences...
Patch reporters in the true sense of the word are a dying breed. Gone are those who are known by everyone who is anyone in their local area with a finger firmly on the community's pulse...
If you do not have your ear to the ground how can you accurately represent the views of the community?
That is not to say there is a need for a physical newsroom in the centre of a patch, thanks mainly to the tools that now allow the journalist to set
up a newsroom anywhere... But utilising this technology requires something that is not readily found in the modern newsroom – trust...
News is still the central ingredient in a media business but the difficulty lies getting bodies on the ground in an affordable way... The rise of the hyperlocal publishers has been testament to the opportunities being presented to those with an understanding of the modern, digital community.
One of the accusations regularly levelled at hyperlocal publishers is that no-one is making significant money from them yet. While this may be true, positive signs are there...
Part of the growth and perceived success of the new hyperlocal movement is down to passion and knowledge for the communities they serve – and recognising that "local" is no longer a catch-all term.
The idea of "community" cannot even be described as a purely geographic phenomenon, with many people having a greater empathy and connection to an online social group than to their physical neighbours.
The emotional connection between audience and publisher is particularly important in a society that is used to choice and being able to interact with their media, be it through phone votes, Twitter hashtags or red-button offerings.
For many of the successful hyperlocal sites, the "one of us" mentality and the open nature of the work has been crucial.

The chart that explains media’s addiction to print

gigaom reporting:
The past few weeks have seen some fairly dramatic moves by newspaper chains in both the U.S. and Canada, who have chosen to stop printing their papers on certain days in an attempt to save money. But in most cases this has been a result of what Ken Doctor has called a “forced march” towards digital, rather than a choice to embrace the online world at the expense of print. A single chart used by veteran internet analyst Mary Meeker in a presentation this week illustrates why that decision is so difficult: because print is still a massive source of advertising revenue. But the chart also shows why the print-based media industry is so afraid of the future — because that source is rapidly dwindling.
The chart is fairly simple: it shows the amount of time spent by users on various forms of media — including print, television, the internet and mobile — compared with the amount of money spent by advertisers on that medium. Although there are obviously areas of overlap (since most newspapers have websites that include advertising, for example) the magnitude of the gap between the amount of time spent on print media vs. the amount of money spent there is fairly dramatic. Even though people spend less than 10 percent of their time with newspapers and magazines, advertisers devote 25 percent of their spending to them.

New York Times turns readers into beta testers with Test Drive

NiemanJournlaismLab reporting:
The Times has released a new browser tool that will let readers test experimental features on in real time. With Test Drive — available as a Chrome extension, a Firefox add-on, or as a simple bookmarklet — readers can test experimental web features the Times doesn’t think are yet ready for the big show.
The experimental features currently in Test Drive include NYT Accessible, which optimizes the site for visually-impaired readers, and TimesInstant, an article search that produces results while you type. Once Test Drive is installed, you can toggle the experimental features on or off at will.
These projects were created by the Times beta620 group and have already been available for testing on their site; Test Drive puts these ideas into on wrapper and lets the Times take them out of a static lab state and into a real world environment. The goal of beta620 is for developers, designers, and others to tinker with ideas that have the potential to enhance the Times online or through apps. (Times HQ is at 620 Eighth Avenue.)