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Google Communications Handhelds Privacy The Media News Apple

Why Digital Newsstands Stink 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the taking-a-cue-from-analog-newsstands dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As Google prepares to compete with Apple in the digital newsstand business, both companies seem to be glossing over the fact that consumer demand for digital magazines is dropping. 'Wired's collapse from 100,000 iPad copies in June to 23,000 in November was most dramatic, but the story is not much different at Glamour, Vanity Fair, GQ or Men's Health.' Meanwhile, issues of subscriber privacy continue to crop up — Google has reportedly told publishers it will supply certain information about subscribers, and it's not clear whether users will have the ability to opt-out. And according to the Wall Street Journal, 'Apple is planning to share more data about who downloads a publisher's app, information publishers can use for marketing purposes.'"
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Why Digital Newsstands Stink

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  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:10PM (#34747502) Homepage Journal

    Brent Spiner could not be contacted for comments.

  • by Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:11PM (#34747520)

    People continue to prefer not paying for things. Also, most people like having privacy in their lives.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RazzleFrog (537054)

      People are too busy playing Angry Birds (or some other equivalent for iPad) to bother reading a magazine. Seriously, though. I've never seen anybody using an iPad on my train for anything other than a game.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        That's probably because the format sucks for reading. I'm sure it's great for cruising the web, watching videos and gaming, but actual reading isn't so good with it.

        But, E-ink readers like Kindle and Nook are great for reading, but marginal at best for gaming and web surfing. And not at all suitable for videos. I could be wrong, but somehow I suspect that people buying iPads weren't doing so for the purposes of reading books.
        • by vlm (69642)

          That's probably because the format sucks for reading. I'm sure it's great for cruising the web.

          Whats the optical difference between "reading" wireds app, and "cruising the web" by jaywalking over to www.wired.com? Does the app suck, more than the website, I mean?

          Also, why is it no good for reading, other than some marketing guy says e-ink is better and some stockholm syndrome victims repeat it?

          I have no problem reading on my ipad. I'm told I'm supposed to, but the dang thing just works.

        • That's probably because the format sucks for reading. I'm sure it's great for cruising the web, watching videos and gaming, but actual reading isn't so good with it.

          You're talking about 'novel reading'. The iPad is great for magazine'ish reading (not that far off from web browsing) and it travels nicely to the bathroom.

      • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:27PM (#34747704)

        I've used an iPad to manage a server from 35K feet on a Virgin Atlantic flight. Not everyone uses it for games.

        • I've used an iPad to manage a server from 35K feet on a Virgin Atlantic flight. Not everyone uses it for games.

          Where'd you get the Airbus app? Sounds neat. Did the pilots mind?

        • by afidel (530433)
          Yep, we bought 100 for our mobile workforce. With the Citrix receiver they can even access things like our corporate intranet though them. They aren't very useful for content creation but for quick access to existing information and choosing a couple dropdowns for canned reports they work great.
      • by golden age villain (1607173) on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:11PM (#34748200)
        I am reading on the iPad quite often. The problem with the Wired app is that you have to pay extra dollars, even as a subscriber for the print issue, for what is basically a few videos and some cheesy animations. The really interesting content, a.k.a. the in-depth articles are not in the iPad issue. Honestly I don't see how that model could work. On the contrary, The Economist gives subscribers of the print issue the entire content at no extra cost and the app is free. You can even download the entire issue as audio files and you don't need to download an updated app every month and 300 MB of data for every single issue. Comics also make a good read. Actually reading is the only really useful feature of the iPad I found so far.
      • by blair1q (305137)

        If Rovio decided to start an Angry Birds magazine right now, it'd out-sell Wired 3 to 1.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:22PM (#34747648) Homepage Journal

      I don't thionk it's a matter of "People continue to prefer not paying for things", rather people continue to prefer not paying for things that are usually free -- like books, magazines, and music, which is at your local library for free.

      When you buy a print newspaper, you're buying ink and paper, and the ads pay for the content. Now they've not only done away with the cost of the ink and paper, they're charging you as much as when they had to buy paper and ink, plus selling your private information!

      People prefer free water out of the fountain, yet plenty still buy bottles of it. These "magazines" are like someone trying to sell bottled water that that tastes like urine -- inferior to the free version.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        These "magazines" are like someone trying to sell bottled water that that tastes like urine -- inferior to the free version.

        Oh, so you've been to Starbucks...

      • I'm just going to jump in here and rain -- tropically -- on your parade: Most people don't use the library. For anything. Speaking as a devoted library user who doesn't mind in the least paying for music, magazines and books. Of the subset of the population that actually reads, most still don't use the library on any regular basis, if at all. If they did, we'd need a lot more of them, I can tell you that. Our library is quiet as a tomb, and not just because people are behaving well. I can walk several aisle

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          That's sad. Where I live, the libraries are always full. You can usually find a seat, but not always. Our librarians are busy helping a line of people either looking for books, or just checking them out. Just goes to show that the US is not a single culture.
          • by fyngyrz (762201)

            What is the population density around your library? My cynical nature hints to me the answer to the difference in library attendance will be found there. Here, we've got 5,000 people county-wide (5,062 square miles) who have no alternative; one library; and perhaps 2...3 of those people might be found in the library (not counting the librarian) if you came in at just the right time. It's a pretty nice library, too, all things considered.

            I'm going to guess you've got a far higher client population and higher

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Most people don't go to the library, but most people don't read. The library here is far different than yours; even though it's well staffed, you usually have to wait in line for a librarian. It's always bustling with activity.

          I *do* buy books for my iPad

          If they're DRMed, you're only renting them. [slashdot.org] I won't buy any digital data I can't back up.

          I do buy lots of books, but I read far more than I buy. I've bought LOTS of music in my lifetime, but the radio doesn't cost a dime.

          We understand the relationship betwe

      • by Americano (920576)

        How much of the cost of the newspaper is tied up in the printing & distribution, versus the amount tied up in paying the salaries of the people who create the content in the newspaper? My feeling is it's a rather shockingly low percentage of the overall cost of running the magazine - from what I've read about the Book & CD markets, large-run pressings cost in the range of pennies-per-unit once the master is completed, and that most of the cost of producing that master has to do with the creative p

        • by protektor (63514)

          If you are serious I might have an answer for you. It might have something to do with the issue of people feeling like the government should take care of them and offer them all kinds of free services that they don't pay for. It might also have to do with the idea being promoted of redistribution of wealth. It is my opinion, and I could be wrong, that when you teach/tell people that everyone should be the same, and those who make more money than others are somehow bad. That type of thinking will/might end u

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      People continue to prefer not paying for things. Also, most people like having privacy in their lives.

      Couldn't it be that the "digital newsstand" is too expensive for casual readers (and who the hell have time nowadays to read in full any newspaper?)

      I mean, yet about 9 months ago some publications sold on "digital newsstand" at the same price as the printed edition ($4.99). Not to mention that, for casual readers, the trade-off "Here's my name and address. Now, let me read a single article in this issue" is quite awful.

      Possibly, the "an entire issue is news wholesale" may need some adjustements (micro-paym

  • by boristdog (133725) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:11PM (#34747522)

    Hey, I've seen all those movies where they just throw a big bundle of the latest issues off the back of a truck as they pass by the newsstand.
    Even with a protective case that's gotta be harsh on the iPad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:16PM (#34747568)

    Good god! When has anyone on the internet ever cared about privacy? We're talking *500 million* people who don't mind giving their data to a company whose entire business model is about selling it to advertisers and tracking every move they make.

    We're talking hundreds of millions of people that still run tracking scripts from google analytics.

    If there's one thing the internet has taught us, it's that people don't give a shit about their privacy. If some business fails, it isn't because people objected to the privacy violations. People LOVE privacy violations.

    • by Desler (1608317)

      We're talking *500 million* people who don't mind giving their data to a company whose entire business model is about selling it to advertisers and tracking every move they make.

      I'm pretty sure that Google has more than 500 million users.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      There are degrees, and ultimately at this point, you don't even have to go online yourself to have your privacy violated by some company that's too cheap to properly secure their servers.
  • by sglewis100 (916818) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:18PM (#34747590)
    The privacy issue has to be framed against the fact that they have this same information on you when you subscribe annually in print form. That's why they want it so much - they are used to it! That said, Apple to date has been very adamant about not sharing this information with app developers upon download time, it's actually been a bone of contention, and a major hindrance to magazines with annual subscription offerings. Zinio and Amazon (Kindle) have sidestepped it by forcing you to purchase through their web fronts. PressDisplay does subscriptions through their web sites, and single issues for newspapers through the App Store in-app purchasing, so they get your information when you subscribe, but not when you buy one issue.
    • by vlm (69642)

      The privacy issue has to be framed against the fact that they have this same information on you when you subscribe annually in print form.

      All make magazine knows about me is my address and CC number. If they outsource fulfillment, they don't even know that. The nosiest print magazine I can think of is QST where the ARRL also knows my callsign.

      Apple / Google know an unholy heck of a lot more about me.

      • All make magazine knows about me is my address and CC number. If they outsource fulfillment, they don't even know that. The nosiest print magazine I can think of is QST where the ARRL also knows my callsign.

        Apple / Google know an unholy heck of a lot more about me.

        Magazine publishers have a lot more information for their advertisers than just your address. And they get it from multiple places, not just your subscription card (of which many of those ask questions like salary level, of which more people than you would imagine answer).

        Apple may know a lot more about you, but so far seem unwilling to give it to publishers of magazines.

      • by afidel (530433)
        So they take your name, address, and CC number and ask Experian for a more detailed report on who you are.
      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        The nosiest print magazine I can think of is QST where the ARRL also knows my callsign.

        Given your name and address, I can look up your callsign.

        What I cannot fathom is why people buy vanity license plates to put their callsign on. I mean, given a callsign I can look up your address, and if you are tooling around in your car you aren't at home where all your expensive ham radios are... plus I know that you probably have one in your car that is easily stolen when you park it on the street. (We had a rash o

    • The privacy issue has to be framed against the fact that they have this same information on you when you subscribe annually in print form.

      It should be noted that they could potentially gather exponentially more data from you using an e-reader than they do just having your subscription info. Advertisers won't care that I have a subscription to Motor Trend if they can know which article's I spent the most time reading, what time of day that I read it, which e-reader I'm using, etc. So this argument that I quoted is almost a non sequitur and one of the reasons some sort of opt-out/opt-in policy needs to be standard for subscriptions.

  • by hsmith (818216)
    Half the "fun" of a physical magazine is the ability to skim through it and flip the pages. Using "digital" magazines has none of that ability. Reading books in digital is great because it is a linear process. But how many people read magazines in a start to finish fashion?
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:28PM (#34747722)

      Reading books in digital is great because it is a linear process. But how many people read magazines in a start to finish fashion?

      *Raises hand* Scientific American, Wired, The Economist, and MAKE.

      • by tool462 (677306)

        Ditto. At most I'll skip over an article I'm not interested in, but it's never random access. The Kindle (and I would assume other e-readers) has a handy next/previous article button so it's actually easier to skip an article or two on an e-reader than in a print mag.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      That's one of the things I always hated about magazines (and newspapers as well) -- the "continued on page nine".

      Isn't clicking random links in the "magazine" the same thing as skimming through it?

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:20PM (#34747608) Homepage
    I, and many others, are perfectly willing to PAY good money for things that would otherwise be free.

    But we don't want to watch advertisements while we do it.

    Expecting people to pay for online content and ALSO see any advertisement (I mean ANYTHING, even simple words), is kind of like saying HBO wants to continue to charge their premium price for premium services but it is now going to show advertisements.

    NO. You can't have it both ways,

    You want ads? You can't charge. Period.

    You want to charge? You can't have ads. Also, NO tracking. No ads means you don't have to tracks us (You can still track how many people read which article, but not which article any individual reads.)

    As long as the greedy morons try to charge HBO prices for TBS content, surprise surprise, no one will pay.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      It's not just the ads, it's the proprietary formats and lack of portability.

      What will happen to this stuff in a year, or in 5?

      PDFs and unencrypted EPUBs are less fancy but you have more ownership of them.

      Ultimately, if you can't resell it then you don't really own it.

      • by vlm (69642)

        It's not just the ads, it's the proprietary formats and lack of portability.

        What will happen to this stuff in a year, or in 5?

        ...

        Ultimately, if you can't resell it then you don't really own it.

        The problem is we're talking about magazines here. You know, last months news, provided next month, squeezed into the spaces between the ads and complimentary copy? Other than hoarders and museums no one wants my July 1991 discover magazine.

        The only "media" I can think of with a deader aftermarket would be something like recordings of local TV news.

        Your argument is, however, excellent for any media that actually has an aftermarket. You should have made a slippery slope argument that this is the nearly id

    • by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2 @ a n t h o n y m clin.com> on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:29PM (#34747730) Homepage

      But that's not how it works in the print world, except for a small set of free papers. The vast majority of print periodicals require you to pay (either subscription or newsstand) AND have much of the cost subsidized by advertisers.

      The business model for magazine publishes is to collect a certain demographic of readers (which they verify using subscription data) that they can then market as a audience block to advertisers. They have a lot of data about this audience block, including demographics, income levels, and purchasing trends and more.

      • by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:47PM (#34747928) Homepage
        What is this 'print world' you talk of it? It sounds like some ancient business that is failing.

        The print world had far better advertisement rules - nothing in the middle of an article breaking it up, no video, no sound, no "ROLLOVER CRAP", most of it on entirely separate pages that people could skip over.

        This is NOT the print world, and attempting to use the oldest of the systems as a model is why they fail

        • True, and I can't help but think that people reading print-like content online would find ads a lot less objectionable if they behaved more like ads in print publications, simply by not breaking your concentration while you're trying to read the story. This is one of the secrets of Google's success, of course, but it's a lesson that no one else seems to want to learn.

      • by Solandri (704621)

        But that's not how it works in the print world, except for a small set of free papers. The vast majority of print periodicals require you to pay (either subscription or newsstand) AND have much of the cost subsidized by advertisers.

        I suspect the amount you have to pay for print periodicals has little to do with revenue and more to do with preventing people from just grabbing a stack of them to use as firewood or raw materials for their kid's paper mache project. Essentially, your subscription pays for the

    • That's a nice idea, but it's not going to work, they've already gone in a different direction. Some magazines offer bits of supplementary web-site content to their print subscribers. It's a real premium, but it doesn't get you away from the ads.

      Also, it's happened before, your TBS example is instructive -- we used to think that subscription TV was supposed to be ad-free, but that didn't last very long.

      SCTV had a good Dave Thomas bit about it, which is inexplicably not on YouTube...

      • by gurps_npc (621217)
        It's a nice idea that none of them have tried. You can't say it's not going to work because while they are trying the other direction, they keep failing at that other direction.

        At least one of them should give up on the obnoxious double dipping that has consistently failed and see what happens.

        In other words, the counter example of failures is not a very good reason not to try something that they did not try.

        • Actually, it has been tried, though with magazine websites and not apps.

          "Slate" magazine used to be a for-pay site, it cost around $20 per year to join, and you could get any/all content on the site, with (initially) no ads. Non-subcribers could not get any site content.

          The problem, as it was described at the time, was that web surfing is not an orderly traversal of web server directories. People like to read an article, then surf away to another site for a while, maybe to view related material or whatever

    • by kwerle (39371)

      I, and many others, are perfectly willing to PAY good money for things that would otherwise be free.

      Sadly, it seems that you + many others =

      ...NO. You can't have it both ways,

      You want ads? You can't charge. Period.

      You want to charge? You can't have ads.

      I'd rather say you can have it both ways:
      Pay & no ads or Ads and no (or small) payment.

      It's digital. I can code that up for you if you like...

    • The only problem I have with paying for an electronic version is that they then feel obliged to lock it up in some crappy DRM format that never, ever, works properly.

      Which of course never fulfills its intended purpose, either.

      They (like movie, music industries) just need to get behind selling unlocked media files, like PDF, for a small convenience fee.  I have paid for mp3's and I'll do it again if it's convenient for me.
    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      I am crazy and all that, but I actually enjoy ads in magazines. I mean, as long as they don't enforce any timer that locks me in the ad, I actually enjoy catching up with new products through nice looking full page advertisement in magazines. They tend to gravitate in topic of the magazine in question, anyways, and chances are I may be interested in whatever they are selling.

      What I oppose is the high price many digital magazines have picked. Printed magazines must cover paper and ink costs, and the ads he

  • It was a dumb idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sayfawa (1099071) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:21PM (#34747628)
    Even if I wanted to pay for news and magazine articles (which I don't) why would I want to go through the extra complication of a separate app for every newspaper, and downloading each magazine? The web already covers this. Am I missing something?
    • by vlm (69642)

      Am I missing something?

      You know that trivia fact that if you whacked a dinosaurs tail, the nerve impulses would take 2 minutes or whatever to go to the brain and back? Something to do with inadequate myelination or something?

      Well in this situation the dinosaurs don't know they're dead yet and are still thrashing around noisily. We can say "bye" to them soon. Maybe we can make crude oil out of them?

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:39PM (#34747838) Homepage Journal

      For me its much better to browse an aggregator such as google news or an RSS client for articles and then pick and choose from different sources. Often on google news I will deliberately select a foreign source for a domestic article because they edit the text differently and give it a more interesting slant.

      I don't want to subscribe to all of Wired or The Age or what ever. I will however read bits and pieces of each and maybe I would pay for access to some of those bits.

      So I think the subscription model needs to be rethought around this more disparate way of doing things. For me it would be a lot more use if the Magazine app is more like an RSS app.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Indeed. I haven't tried it, but I'm somewhat intrigued by B&N's Newstand. At present it's only supported by Nook Color, but it does seem to be an interesting way of addressing that problem.

      In the long run it does look interesting, but for the time being I'm definitely not buying into it without being able to use it on my Nook.
  • Magazines are very, very random access. When I read a magazine, I rarely start at the ToC. I'll flip through the magazine, stopping at a picture that interests me, a title that interests me, or something else. Heck, I tend to look at the advertisements before I look at the ToC!

    So, while I love my iPad, it definitely doesn't suit the way I like to read magazines.

    • That's more of a problem with the user interface than with the medium, isn't it? I pretty much browse magazines the same way as you do, and I guess there are lots of people that are the same. Electronic media need some means of going over the content like that - but actually, in my opinion, tablets should be perfect for that.
      • by vlm (69642)

        Electronic media need some means of going over the content like that

        Is the "scroll bar" patented or something? I've seen plenty of GPL software providing a scroll bar on desktops. I've seen free software on the itunes app store that has a user interface with "multitouch scrolling" so I'm guessing its not patented or at least has a license generous enough that a "magazine app" could implement that UI component?

        I'm not seeing an entire industry being destroyed because of a minor UI feature.

        • This might just be a matter of personal taste - but the scroll bar doesn't do the same thing for me like flipping through a magazine does. I actually have no idea how to implement that function in the manner I like it - but if someone finds a way, he sure has a lot of market share to gain.
          • by fyngyrz (762201)

            I can't be sure based on your description, but I *think* it's already been done. Check out Zineo [zinio.com].

            The pages turn, it's really "magazine-like." Very good looking, very familiar. I read quite a few magazines using it. The subscription update mechanism is pretty clever, too.

            The only downside? Centerfolds. :) Just not enough monitor space on most desktops.

          • by jimfrost (58153) *

            The Wired iPad app does give you a way to see the breadth of the content without having to go page-by-page using a navigation bar that has images of a number of pages across it. It uses a scroll bar whereas I'd rather flick, but either way it is a fine way to browse quickly and I use that pretty regularly. I would like to be able to make the icons bigger, though, so I could get more of an idea of what's on the page ... and maybe that becomes a whole new mode.

            Zinio does more or less the same thing.

    • Its possible that the people on the publishers side who put the app together never realised that. They envisage you stepping through their document one page at a time like a good little luser.

  • by Fantom42 (174630) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:26PM (#34747690)

    Go look at the comments for some of the "top sellers" of periodicals on the Kindle. Things like New Yorker, or Economist. You find that there are a ton of people that want to pay for this stuff on their device, but right now the deal is no good. Here are a few examples of what people justly complain about:

    - When you buy a digital subscription, you don't get website access that you do get with a print subscription.
    - Missing editorial cartoons, and even articles (reported from the Kindle version of the New Yorker)
    - They delete access to anything more than 2 months old. Meaning if your device crashes or you have to replace it, you lose those articles.
    - Pagination and sections are done in an inconvenient way.
    - The cost is no cheaper than a print subscription.

    I'm sure there are others. But as a person who recently found himself with an e-book reader and would love to have magazines and newspapers on there, much of this stuff is just a showstopper. Too bad, really.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Pricing seems to be an industry wide problem right now. You get DRM and they typically charge you more for the privilege. It's a shame, but that's how it is at present, hopefully it will change in the future.
    • Calibre + the Economist online full subscription feed works quite well. Just an FYI if you have a Kindle. The iPad Economist App is solid as well.

  • by xtal (49134) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:28PM (#34747710)

    Put issues in the iBookstore for $0.99.

    Add a subscribe option.

    Profit.

    Nobody is going to pay full retail for an electronic version, it ain't happening. Alternatively come up with a global pass system ala hulu that allows you to read lots of magazines for a flat fee.

    Otherwise, $6.99 buys a lot of 3G time to look at your website. For free.

    • by fyngyrz (762201)


      Put issues in the iBookstore for $0.99.

      Add a subscribe option.

      Profit.

      ...also, reduce download size by factor of ten to a hundred, eliminate animations/video, automate subscriptions, and make sure I can read at any magnification I want with a column-aware zoom tool... then I'd be interested. Oh, wait... also, they need content I'd be interested in, which Wired, bless its edgy little heart, doesn't supply. QST? Sure, I'd subscribe to that if it was reasonably sized and priced. Make too, maybe. A men's magaz

  • Its the cost. (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrQuacker (1938262) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:35PM (#34747786)
    My subscription to Esquire is something silly, like $12 a year. Not taking into account the cost of the iPad, buying the iPad version of the magazine costs $5 an issue. That's $12 vs $60 a year.

    So, why should I buy the digital version when the print version is not just better, but cheaper? And I dont need a specialized tool to read it.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:35PM (#34747790) Homepage

    Meanwhile, issues of subscriber privacy continue to crop up — Google has reportedly told publishers it will supply certain information about subscribers, and it's not clear whether users will have the ability to opt-out.

    There's a good idea. Take a business that's having trouble catching on and give people another excuse not to subscribe.

    Did anyone try pricing the digital version at $2.00? Give people a compelling reason to switch from the print version. Instead the digital version is expensive and crippled.

    It all reminds of when music was struggling with the same issues. Now most of it is DRM free, it will play on almost any music player, and priced at $1. Do the same thing with the digital version of magazines.

    Or die. Your choice.

  • Indian government tried to enforce family planning once in seventies and the people had such strong aversions that even now the government is having tough time convincing people that family planning is a good idea. (1.2 billion and counting rather fast).

    Now why am I talking about population of India in a post about digital newsstands?

    Because it explains my theory for what is happening.

    See, the print media was freaking out about going out of business thanks to digital media. So what did they do? They brainwa

  • by Qwavel (733416) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:43PM (#34747892)

    Another reason that digital newsstands stink is censorship.

    I am amazed that people are so accepting of the idea that this platform being touted as the future of publishing includes arbitrary censorship.

    Apple has a well documented history of preventing their users from accessing apps that conflict with Apple's interests. This is not just about apps that add technical capabilities, like Google Voice, but also apps with editorial content. Apps that mention Android or make fun of politicians have been blocked. Cartoons by a Pulitzer prize winner author were blocked until he won the prize (great for him, not so great for those of us without a pulitzer). And now we have the same with magazine: Esquire had to remove racy content from a magazine to get past the censors, a magazine about Android was blocked, etc.

    Am I missing something here? Is Apple planning to create a new system for magazine and books without the arbitrary censorship? If not, where did our concern for freedom of expression go?

    To clarify, what Apple is doing is completely different then the standard, law based censorship (e.g. no child porno) that publishers are already subject to.

    I'm less concerned about Google's digital newsstand - it will probably be like their app marketplace: subject only to a fairly simple, published, set of rules that restricts Google from the sort of abuse that Apple practices.

    • Re:Censorship (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:26PM (#34748328) Homepage Journal

      To be fair, as traditional media has become more and more consolidated, the companies that own the magazines, newspapers, and networks exert this kind of control too. I'm not saying I approve of this situation, you understand, just pointing out that singling out e-publication as uniquely vulnerable doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

      • by Qwavel (733416)

        I'm not singling out 'e-publication' as uniquely vulnerable. I think that e-publication could be great.

        The problem is Apple's current model. If a few prominent publishers were to stand up to Apple then the problem could be solved, but I haven't seen much evidence of this yet.

        I have seen some mentions of the issue, e.g. this article in Canada's national newspaper, but it amazes me how little of this I have seen:
        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/personal-tech/ivor-tossell/apple-esquire-dust-up- [theglobeandmail.com]

        • The point is that "Apple's current model" isn't just Apple's; it's most of the publishing industry's current model, even if you're not aware of it.

          On the whole I am shocked that people don't seem to care about freedom of speech anymore. Witness that my post has not been modded up but your response has been.

          Right, the only possible reason is that we're all a bunch of censorship-loving sheeple! [rolls eyes]

    • Apple has a well documented history of preventing their users from accessing apps that conflict with Apple's interests. This is not just about apps that add technical capabilities, like Google Voice, but also apps with editorial content

      Google Voice is available on the iPhone. Can you give an example of editorial content, aside from porn?

  • In addition to the random access and ease or fun of flipping through, most magazines are bigger than the iPad.

    Sure with some you can zoom in with the pinch, but it's not the same as simply having a bigger magazine.

    I haven't tried any of the magazine apps, but if I compare with the comic book ones, it's a lot easier reading a comic book or graphic novel on paper than dealing with the app.

    • Interactivity matters, too. Otherwise you can say the same about a website vs. a tradition magazine -- who cares if the magazine is bigger when you can't click on a small photo to make it full-screen? And who needs pinch to zoom when a decent photographer can provide close-up crops of the most relevant parts of an image?

  • by Roogna (9643) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:52PM (#34747972)

    To be honest perhaps it's just that so far the digital offerings suck. I love the -idea- of a digital magazine. Wired seemed like a perfect candidate as well. Except instead of being a nice native, responsive, and fluid iPad app with spiffy digital only features to justify the high cost per issue vs. the print version, it was instead (afaict) a super slow PDF scan of the articles with a few little crappy low res videos tossed in. Virgin's "Project" is getting closer. But again, whoever decided on how navigation would be handled failed miserably in my opinion. The only thing I can come up with is that whoever they have in charge of the design of the digital versions at all these companies has never actually used an iPad themselves and is simply dictating off how things should be done, without ever picking up a device.

  • by gilgongo (57446) on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:22PM (#34748298) Homepage Journal

    It's not "digital newstands" that stink, it's "news" itself. It always has stunk, but it's not until we've had the Internet and free distribution channels for any alternatives that it's started to be seen for what it is.

    Most, if not all of the content you find in any given "quality newspaper" is baloney. It's either political public opinion testing ("Obama MAY ban [something controversial]"), worthless human-interest crap and celebrity gossip, sport, re-heated press-releases, or pompous "this writer thinks..." editorials reading only slightly less well than most stand-up comedy routines ("Single mothers!?! What's up with them???!!").

    In terms of content, I think newspapers and most magazines have hit the buffers now. They used to fulfil a middle-class need for mental masturbation, making people feel they had to "keep up" with the "news" or they would mysteriously fall victim to being "uninformed" about whether some politician wanted them to know about some policy or other (pretty much consumption of propaganda from government and industry). But with the web, blogs, Twitter, RSS whatever, it's now much easier to get what you need about news that matters to you in more concentrated form than newspapers or magazines are offering.

    So the decline in news consumption has less to do with platforms or channels, and much more to do with the fact that the Internet has simply unmasked publications like Newsweek and Wired as being pretty poor-quality against the general free flow of information from non-mainstream sources. In short, content is RALLY king this time. Heck, on any given subject, I would get more out of /. than I would from reading Time's coverage of it.

  • by Balthisar (649688) on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:29PM (#34748366) Homepage

    I subscribe to Wired. I also read Wired's website when I don't have access to my subscription (I travel a lot). I'd prefer a Wired app to their website, but not for an extra $5 per month for duplicate content. Oh, wait, you say: but it has enhanced content! I don't give a crap about enhanced content, or I'd not subscribe to the magazine in the first place.

    I also subscribe to Cook's Illustrated, both the physical magazine and their online site. (The online site gives me access to everything before I subscribed.) The iOS app is free, but also lets me log in for full content. Since Apple doesn't (yet) support subscriptions, I'd say that something like that would be a happy medium for Wired.

  • Wired's collapse from 100,000 iPad copies in June to 23,000 in November was most dramatic,

    If they are like me, they decided more than 1/2 of Wired is crap they are not interested in and gave up. While I find there are usually one or two really interesting feature articles and several shorter pieces in a print copy of Wired, most of the other stuff is uninteresting to me or printed in a font that is so small that I refuse to get up to get a magnifying lens.

  • I bought the first iPad ep of Wired for $5 just because, and then never bought another. It was 600 MB for something that was less convenient to read than the print version because of their stupid flow tricks (and had different content in landscape and portrait modes, so if you wanted to see everything you had to keep flipping it - how asinine can you get?). And it ate up an app icon back before app folders.

    On the other hand, I love Zinio, and subscribe to NatGeo, The Economist, New Scientist among others on

  • by jimfrost (58153) * <jimf@frostbytes.com> on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:40PM (#34748458) Homepage

    I don't know about everyone else, but I'm disinclined to spend $5 for every issue of things that I pay $12/year for in paper. I have continued to buy most issues of Wired for the iPad because I really like the layout, but I haven't bought all of them because the cost is kind of ridiculous, and I've bought only a handful of issues of any magazines other than Wired. I'm hoping they (and others) offer subscriptions soon. It's crazy that it hasn't happened yet.

    I don't know what it's like on Android devices, but this high cost does not carry over to the Kindle -- I get The Atlantic and The New Yorker on the Kindle at very reasonable prices. From magazine-specific apps to Zinio, though, iPad magazines are overpriced. I am really looking forward to photography magazines on the iPad once they realize that one of the big benefits can be to provide high-resolution images for everything they publish; it's irritating when space constraints force small images, and right now that irritation is carried straight to the electronic form ... but if they continue with obscene prices I guess it's just going to have to be paper.

    Another big irritation e.g. with Wired for the iPad is sheer size. A third of a gig? That's a big hunk of the total storage of the machine, and while I can shuffle them on and off it is really irritating to have to wait for that to download to the device (and wait some more while it "installs"). The result is gorgeous, make no mistake, but I have to believe that there is a better way than providing images of every page.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      I agree on the price issue. Why would I pay more for a digital magazine? I can toss a magazine in my backpack and read it on the train - when I'm done, I just toss it in the trash (or recycle bin), so it's not like the digital version is hugely more convenient.

      I don't own an iPad but when I got a Kindle I was excited to trade in my paper magazines for a cheaper electronic version. Then I saw the prices. And selection. None of the magazines I regularly read are even available electronically. But even if they

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:45PM (#34748508)

    Is this a surprise?

    Access to the web and a countless number of apps all offer countless distractions competing for the attention of a user. And, more importantly, why pay for something that can be had for free online? There are certain types of content and a level of assured quality a reader might miss out on by not going with one of these publications, but even those things aren't guaranteed.

    And admittedly consumers can be unreasonable at times about what they expect something should cost. I've read complaints that the cost of digital issues isn't low enough compared to the printed version. The problem is that most of the expense of producing that magazine isn't going into printing. The bulk of the expense goes into generating and laying out that content, something that has to be done for both print and digital.

    I think we're far from seeing a solution. Perhaps publications need to move to more focused content. Maybe authors with a following will start selling their work directly to consumers.

    I wouldn't say the problem, however, is that consumers don't want the content so much as the internet has instilled this attitude in people that content should be free.

  • I don't know about digital magazines, but most websites have boring content, poor contrast between background and text, and the webpage is not sized correctly for todays widescreen monitors.
    Also, many webpages have a small amount of content lost in a sea of unrelated links, ranging from poorly placed ads to intrusive social media bookmarking toolbars to lists of other columns/blogs
    I would say the hunger for something interesting to read is as great as ever, the quality and
    layout
    are not very good
    To take
  • Someone finally realized digital magazines suck as bad as paper ones ? SURPRISE!

    We have the web, which has largely obsoleted print periodicals. Why pay ten bucks for a weekly rag filled with advertising and infotising, when you can get the same bullshit on the web for free ? Oh, perhaps more to the point, who the hell still reads Wired.com in the age of RSS aggregators ?

  • I doubt they would lie on it, but just to know, if Apple wanted to pretend one thing on the sales of a newspaper, how could one prove otherwise ?

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