Magazines Dial Back Expensive Media-Rich Features for Kindle Fire and Nook Color

Author: Abe
December 2, 2011

Magazine publishers were all too anxious to take advantage of the iPad’s functionality by cramming all kinds of expensive rich-media content into their digital magazines.  However, now that they’re generating electronic editions for the new spate of color e-readers (Kindle Fire, Nook Color, etc.), most publishers are dialing back the costly interactive elements.

“The number one benefit is to have a great reading experience reading the tablet,” says Time Inc.’s executive vice president of consumer marketing and sales, Steve Sachs.  “Interactive elements are valuable to [readers], but they’re a secondary benefit.”

Chris Wilkes, vice president in charge of Hearst Magazines’ App Lab, claims that too much rich-media content could be detrimental to digital magazine sales.  “Those advanced elements are often more likely to be distracting, cause confusion, and occasionally irritate the customers if execution is not perfect.”

However, not all magazine publishers agree with the plain vanilla approach to digital content.  Condé Nast’s executive director of digital magazine development Scott Dadich claims, “It’s more effort, it’s more expense, but it does bear out in engagement.  Something like a GQ, seeing models on a fashion shoot, or seeing the clothes move–there’s definitely value in that.”

McPheters & Co. president Rebecca McPheters agrees that there is value in enhanced content for e-readers.  “If you look at the apps that are pulling in the biggest amount of money, it’s the more sophisticated apps.  Our analysis showed people are seeking out the enriched experience.”

One reason that enhanced editions may seem to be selling better on the tablet is Apple’s penchant for promoting them.  According to Matt Bean, associate vice president of mobile, social and emerging media at Rodale, vanilla content stands less of a chance of receiving significant promotion in Apple’s App Store.  “There’s no question, the enhanced editions are being promoted more and the reviews are more favorable,” Bean explains.  “Apple wants to promote products that take advantage of the device capabilities.”

Source:  Magazines Pull Back on Tablet Bells and Whistles, by Lucia Moses (Adweek)

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