iPad traces new direction for print media

With all the hype and hoopla of yesterday’s unveiling of the much awaited Apple iPad, it was surprising to note that Steve Jobs had not uttered the word magazine. 

Yet this is the one industry where Apple’s take on the e-reader will have its largest impact. Long before its debut, tech pundits have already predicted that the iPad would take the publishing industry by storm just as the iPod had with the music industry. 

This 1/2 –inch thick and 1 ½-lb. portable device is not going to kill the publishing industry but I will drag and drop it into the online world once and for all. 

In re-engineering the tablet concept, making it more affordable and adding multi-media and social media ingredients into the mix, Apple is offering consumers a richer way of enjoying the printed word. Book or magazine readers will have access to hyper links, images and videos as well as comment on, print, send and share articles.

Think of all the things you can do on your iPod or iPhone and transfer that multimedia app experience to a bigger screen. 

For sure we’ll still have printed books and periodicals. I don’t think they’ll totally disappear and I wouldn’t want them to either. 

But consider actually viewing a slow-mo of a Super Bowl touchdown the next time you flip through a copy of Sports Illustrated. That’s just what designers did with a mock up of the magazine’s potential iPad version here.

So far Apple has only announced a handful of publishing partners (iBookstore has so far signed up Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette) but that is certainly going the change. 

Rather than kill the industry, I think the iPad will open up new opportunities for the printers. For one, the technology will help them get rid of the two biggest expenditures that eat up their profits – printing and distribution. 

As independent technology analyst and blogger Carmi Levy said: “Once publishers get out of the business of cutting down trees and sending them off somewhere else, they can now concentrate their resources and talents on better things.” 

This device just might be what publishers need to reach out to develop alternate business, pricing and distribution models which have been based on centuries old practices being slowly eroded by the digital age.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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