Publishers need to be smarter when diverting resources from their print titles to digital editions says an industry insider. In a recent article submitted to Bo Sacks’ blog, Steve Strickman (founder of CDS Global) makes a solid case for proceeding with utmost caution.
“I believe that consumer magazine publishers should reconsider if they divert important resources from their core print business to fund digital activities. The digital part of the business will continue to grow, but it should not be at the expense of print,” Strickman writes.
He continues, “The perception that every publisher must be committed to digital publishing means that few publishers can afford not to have a digital presence. Where has the money for these digital investments been coming from? That’s the rub! In too many cases, the digital investments have been funded through cost reductions on the traditional print side of the business.”
He makes several valid points about the financial considerations, and also offers a bullet list of suggestions for publishers to consider before making decisions about their digital version.
BoSacks, generally gracious if not always agreeable, takes issue with a couple of Strickman’s points (in particular pointing out the huge difference in how the size of a publisher impacts their ability to change with the market conditions.) While he spends a moment waxing poetic on a theoretical publishing industry that might come to some consensus on how to proceed in the digital marketplace, he knows that’s not a realistic expectation.
“We can’t and won’t because we are not like the milk industry or the beef industry, nor are we like most other industries, with the possible exception of the music industry. Each of our products is unique and wildly different from most others, with only the form factors to hold us together as brother and sister publishers.”
True enough. And we appreciate Strickman’s point of view, that the experience of the printed magazine may be challenged by digital, but will never be replaced.