I feel badly that The Daily didn’t succeed. The digital publishing industry’s tender age contributed to its eventual failure, but several factors contributed, including a bad first impression. Remember Gruber’s description of “The Daily Wait”?
“From the time I tapped the icon on my home screen until I could read a single page, today’s issue took one minute and twenty seconds. And to be clear, that was over a reasonably fast Wi-Fi connection. One minute, twenty seconds. For over a minute of that time, this is all that I saw. At that point, it’s already a lost cause.”
John wrote that in February 2011, and the app’s developers acknowledged and worked to fix the issue, but by then a large number of potential subscribers had been turned off.
The Daily was a brave, forward-looking experiment. I hope any lessons learned spawn something even better.
To everyone who’s waiting to sign the magazine industry’s digital death certificate: not so fast. This week, an issue of Time magazine featured an image of a 26-year-old mother breast-feeding her almost 4-year-old son and the question, “Are you mom enough?” Meanwhile, Newsweek published a portrait of President Obama on its cover, complete with rainbow halo and the caption, “The First Gay President.” As NPR points out, both magazines have generated a huge amount of discussion, likely amongst people who haven’t bought a magazine in a while.
Poynter calls the Newsweek cover “a flag in the ground for print journalism.”
“[Today], an article in a newsweekly has as much chance of becoming the focus of cultural conversation as a photo of a falling bear or a review of an Olive Garden in a North Dakota newspaper, but an arresting cover is an assertion that while print magazines’ power may have receded, they’re far from toothless.”
Print publishers have long known that provocative images on their covers get people talking. I suspect that an all-digital publication — The Daily, for example — would generate less buzz with a controversial cover image.
ZDNet muses on a potentially appealing aspect of digital textbooks: students won’t sell them back to the college’s bookstore at the end of the semester:
“Each semester after a student finishes a class, they can sell their textbook back to the bookstore (often for a fraction of what they paid). The bookstore then slaps a “used” sticker on it and sells it again to another student. That student sells it back, then the bookstore sells it again. In fact, the same textbook can be resold numerous times — cutting the publisher out of the profit entirely.
The cost of developing a new textbook can top $1 million and fifty percent (or more) of its sales occur in the first year after publication. After that, sales drop precipitously as most students move to (cheaper) used textbooks, again eliminating the publisher.
The appeal of etextbooks to publishers is that they can’t be resold.”
That’s something I mentioned as a benefit last month:
“What happens at the end of each semester? Students sell their used books back to the campus bookstore, which the school then re-sells to next year’s class. The publishers earn nothing from the sale of used books, which e-books would eliminate.”
Not to mention the other benefits of Internet-connected textbooks: download updates, in-app purchase of new editions, teacher connectivity, etc. I hope this pans out.