Look into the not too distant future for magazines

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Bob Cunningham » 12/19/09 12:36 PM

mrgoat wrote:None of this means that you will never be able to get premium (paid for) creative content on the internet though.


Agreed!

I pay for the Wall Street Journal on-line ($197 per year). I know that Mr. Murdoch is trying to re brand most of his on-line news empire as premium. It will be very interesting to watch and see how successful he is.
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Postby mrgoat » 12/19/09 12:58 PM

Bob Cunningham wrote:
mrgoat wrote:None of this means that you will never be able to get premium (paid for) creative content on the internet though.


Agreed!

I pay for the Wall Street Journal on-line ($197 per year). I know that Mr. Murdoch is trying to re brand most of his on-line news empire as premium. It will be very interesting to watch and see how successful he is.



I can't see people paying for The Sun newspaper online.

Although, in the UK, The Guardian newspaper has just launched a paid for iPhone app that is topping all the charts. So people are prepared to PAY for content they can GET FREE on the internet? :)

Yes. Seems they are.
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Postby the Larry » 12/19/09 01:16 PM

I think Wikipedia is so successful because it is right there where you need it - on the computer. Most writing these days is done on the computer. It is therefore most convenient to use Wikipedia even if you have 12 volumes of Britannica, or how many they are these days. Try to look something up in a printed encyclopedia. It takes much longer than typing in keywords into Google or surf over to Wikipedia and do the searching there.

The explanation therefore simply is convenience. The fact that it is free adds to the convenience. Not because you don't have to pay anything but it eliminates any ordering or sign up process which is an inconvenience by itself. It is annoying to register, to login, to type in all your credit card info, etc.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 12/19/09 01:33 PM

The problem with Wikipedia is that more and more of my sons college instructors are not allowing it as a source because of its infamous reputation. I suspect that this isnt just happening at his school. Its because of the lack of control over its content that it contains such an amazing range of the factual, the apocryphal, to just plain [censored]: You get what you pay for. Theres simply no way to trust it without using due diligence and following upthus using up more time. I didnt let my son use it when he was in high school, but we have a set of encyclopedias and I have been a subscriber to The National Geographic (another superb source for the student) since 1978.

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Postby Roger M. » 12/19/09 02:02 PM

Wiki is regularly rated as being on par with the Encyclopedia Britannica in terms of accuracy and percentage of errors.

It's very different today that it was even a year ago in terms of accuracy.

Wiki have put in place a number of tools to deal with the issues raised three or four years ago regarding accuracy. Those tools are described in detail on Wiki itself and elsewhere for those interested.

Crediting is an entirely different issue, and the prime reason why Wiki is not acceptable as a research source for university level work.
If your research requires accurate crediting, Wiki hasn't got the depth.
For general and public research though, accuracy is generally not an issue.

BTW, the magazine "Nature" published a study which indicated that not only was Wiki on par with the Encyclopedia Britannica in terms of accuracy, but it also contained roughly the same percentage of errors.
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Postby Andrew Pinard » 12/19/09 02:23 PM

The "free" argument is fallacious. Content is paid for by users who access it (through the "web-tubes") and by advertising...

Prestige, accuracy, and interesting content is going to draw readers, and therefore, advertisers.

Look at television. It is, and for the most part, remains free. Both advertisers and consumers pay for it. Consumers pay through subscription fees to cable and satellite providers. Advertisers, well, advertise. Consumers are paying for content delivery or for premium content. Those providers are paying to producers for that content. At some point, the premium content providers realized that quality work that consumers want pays. They upped their investment and took some risks to add novelty and the consumers responded.

If Encyclopedia Brittanica were to develop a subsription-based service, it would limit the number of consumers. If it provided a free service paid through advertising (sponsorships, if you will), it would have been very successful. The challenge is making the migration from one method of delivery to another. Any business starting expects to lose money for the first few years. Investing in a new method of delivery will cost money, but if you make it convenient, inexpensive, engaging, and of appropriate quality (the wikipedia argument).

Seems to me I remember a "rule" that stated that the level of income a product can expect to make is based on its quality and desirability. Make something desirable in small quantities and sell it at a high price and you will make the same amount of money to make something less desirable at an inexpensive price point. The idea being that the same amount of money is there to be made.

Several manufacturers in this industry have learned that limiting supply and raising prices leads to a quicker return on investment. Then there is an inevitable wait to release the material again in a different "package" with the lower price, to collect the extra "gravy".

A delivery-system, whether print, video, audio or thought transmission is nothing more than a delivery system. Everyone has their own preference. The content drives the market. We live in a small market, and, as much as I love print, video and online content are going to be the next wave of development because of convenience and cost.

Wouldn't it be great if our industry stepped up and grabbed a larger share of the entertainment marketplace?

Of course then we would have to create content that would have broader appeal and be of a quality akin to other performance arts...

A happy dream!
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/19/09 04:13 PM

Paper will not die, and here's why:

all of the arguments that center on what's happened with audio, video, etc. miss a critical difference between those media and paper.

Recorded audio and film/video have always required a "reader" of some form or another.

I can't hold a CD up to my ear and hear the music. I am dependent on a device to translate the information stored into a physical experience that I can enjoy.

So the burden of having to switch formats as "readers" improve/change, is all part of the game because I have to have a reader -- and therefore it makes sense to have the most convenient device possible.

A book, however, is a fundamentally different medium because it is self-contained and -- for the purposes of my life time -- permanent. Provided I have my eyesight, can read the language, and the physical object is still intact, there is no barrier to my being able to read a book produced at any time, by any company, anywhere in the world.

Once I have bought a book, provided I take care of it, I can enjoy it for the rest of my life.

Why would I possibly trade that permanence and freedom in to become dependent on a device that will force me to re-purchase my books over and over again every time a new format emerges (cf. the details in David Alexander's excellent post, above).

Now, media that is by nature less permanent -- I don't keep around old newspapers and certain magazines -- may very well go all digital. But the information that we invest in with the desire to have access to for the rest of our lives (and quality magic magazines are still relevant decades after they've been published) I think we will keep in a form we know we will be able to access whenever we need it.

We never had that certainty about audio/film recordings in any form, we always knew we'd have to change -- we just didn't know when and to what.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/19/09 04:29 PM

I got all my goodies written up in Linear B a while ago but now I can't find my Rosetta stone... so maybe Latin this time?
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Postby Joe Mckay » 12/19/09 04:33 PM

Great post NCMarsh!

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/19/09 05:08 PM

If that were true our new cuneiform would be a form of Laban for Conjurers.
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/19/09 05:20 PM

Jonathan,

I've reproduced, with added emphasis, the relevant section of the post below.

Best,

N.

Provided I have my eyesight, can read the language, and the physical object is still intact, there is no barrier to my being able to read a book produced at any time, by any company, anywhere in the world.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/19/09 05:30 PM

Nathan, IMHO the presupposition of a literate population is unfounded. Also, as of Borges, we know that you can't read the same book twice. Around here we do seem to find the same trick offered more than twice though. ;)

Anyway - IMHO between nostalgia and prestige - magic tomes will be appealing for a long time.

How are folks doing on a version of Laban for conjurers?
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/19/09 05:38 PM

we know that you can't read the same book twice


Which is one of the major reasons to keep the same text in a form that you can revisit it.

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Postby Kent Gunn » 12/19/09 05:51 PM

Jon,

Laban: ??? Are we talking about Becky's big brother or doing kinesiology?

As for the Borges reference that went screaming over my head. I'm not into mystery writers and have not read any Borges. (Wife-unit scored a win on knowing his work.)

Sorry to bother you Jon, but people often ask me to translate for you and I'm trying to keep my database of obtuse references up to date.

Thanks,

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Postby magicam » 12/19/09 06:22 PM

NCMarsh wrote:Paper will not die, and here's why:

all of the arguments that center on what's happened with audio, video, etc. miss a critical difference between those media and paper.

Recorded audio and film/video have always required a "reader" of some form or another. I can't hold a CD up to my ear and hear the music. I am dependent on a device to translate the information stored into a physical experience that I can enjoy.

... A book, however, is a fundamentally different medium because it is self-contained and -- for the purposes of my life time -- permanent. Provided I have my eyesight, can read the language, and the physical object is still intact, there is no barrier to my being able to read a book produced at any time, by any company, anywhere in the world. ...

Nathan, Im a forever bibliophile, so I hope that paper will never die. But I think theres a bigger point to this than the self-contained nature of a physical book: IMO, the crucial point that many miss in promoting e-books over physical books is the fact that e-book readers thus far very poorly mimic the experience of reading a physical book. Until that happens, IMO e-books will be a poor cousin of physical books.

Music is aural in nature, and books are visual AND tactile in nature. Nobody cares how they store and recall their music so long as they can hear their music. And all the iPod and others have done is to make it easier to store and recall music, but they do not change the very nature (auditory) of music Led Zeppelin essentially sounds the same on vinyl, cassette, 8-track or on an iPod. But I would argue that e-books fundamentally shift the nature (functionally and visually) of a book, and thus there will be far greater consumer resistance to switching over to e-books until the readers experience of using an e-book approximates that of reading a physical book.

There are other drawbacks to e-books, especially e-book readers: durability (can it get repeatedly dropped kicked, get buried in sand at the beach, get wet, etc.), eye strain, size and legibility, resolution (you wanna look at an image of the Mona Lisa in 80dpi?), color, etc.

Bob Cunningham wrote: ... The point is that print encyclopedias are dead or dying! The encyclopedia companies themselves blame Wikipedia. ...

Understand your point, Bob, and it certainly seems valid, so far as it goes. But in the link you provided, I read nothing which said that the encyclopedia companies blame Wikipedia for the demise of their print business. Where did you read that?

Bob Cunningham wrote: More details on the number I quoted can be found here: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/06/fo ... int-sales/

The point is that the major players in the book selling world see e-books as the future of book sales (http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/10105).

Perhaps they are wrong, but given that most successful businesses know their own industry, and that these companies are currently investing large amounts of money into e-books, I would think that this should pause to anyone give anyone arguing against the wide spread adoption of e-books.

Bob, from the link you provided, two things are clear: the 35% number is wrong (by the authors own admission) and is closer to 25%. Second, the metric is in unit sales, but only for books which are published both in print and in e-book form. Unfortunately, that tells us nothing about overall market share of e-books in the publishing business.

Now, regarding the massive investments in e-book readers being made by Amazon and others, there is a cold, hard economic reality when it comes to technologies like this: if you dont get in early, you will be shut out of the market. True, the massive investment does probably reflect a belief in the future e-book market, but by the same token, history is littered with examples of companies making huge investments to establish a technological standard, but losing big-time on the gamble.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/19/09 09:10 PM

Kent,

The Laban reference is about how we can gain copyright protection for our sleights and routines in the same way as choreographers can protect their works.

The Borges reference is part of a cross between the Hericlitus quote about stepping into the same stream and the question left in the story about reviewing a text that's been "legitimately" rewritten by another though letter for letter textually identical to the original.

Does the text create its reader?
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Postby Andrew Pinard » 12/19/09 09:49 PM

I fully expect print to last a very long time to come. I don't anticipate in my lifetime to see a full transition from print to exclusive electronic distribution, but...

In addition to performing, I've spent the last year taking college classes towards a music degree and have had a front row seat to how the current generation uses information (caveat: in my neck of the woods), and the reality is that the consumer base for print is shrinking. Most students at the college level (and I presume younger) reach for electronic forms of entertainment and enlightenment well before they reach for conventional print. The college took to giving away free newspapers in the Union Building to encourage reading: the Concord Monitor, Union Leader, Boston Globe, New York Times and USA today. Each day over 2500 people travel right by the stacks, and, of the perhaps fifty copies of each that are delivered daily, only a few remain at the end of the day. That means that less than 10% of the individuals passing by elect to take advantage of the free media and, of that 10%, many are old fogies like me (non-traditionals and even professors).

One of the things that I learned this last year is that textbooks are expensive (yeah, they were expensive twenty years ago when I started, but $79 for a 300 page paperback? And that book was used - it sells new for $125). I only took two classes and I was out over $500 for the few books (and cds) I was required to purchase (each semester). Most of the books were published by Norton and every text was available separately in an e-book format. The paperback was full-color throughout, but knowing the approximate production costs for a 10,000 run (approximating the number of copies required for students throughout the country - and this number is likely low), they still had a very healthy profit margin. To Norton's credit, they provided free online content to users of the books that duplicated some material and added extra value (detailed outlines of the chapters, quizzes, audio and video footage that expanded on the test and additional material). I kept up with all the reading, but I found the online material invaluable in my studies and test preparation.

With the extreme costs of textbooks, I know many students who shared texts or used library copies.

Now imagine you are a producer and you can reduce your distribution and printing costs to near zero (you still have the production overhead). Now you can reduce the price of your "book" (content) and make higher profit margin. Why wouldn't you? Some textbook producers have even looked at creating a licensing option for the e-books. They expire after the semester is over and the only option is to re-up the lease. They could afford to do this for half the price of the printed book and still make more money per copy.

One of the challenges to the original producer is the Used Book market (which at the college level is significant). College bookstores and independent companies buy back the used book for 25% of the purchase price and re-sell them to students at 75% of the new price. This reduces the overall quantity of books sold by the publisher and caps their ROI. Imagine now if you could provide the content in a format that is cheaper to produce and eliminates the competition due to the new format.

How would you proceed if you were the business owner?

The eventuality is that succeeding generations will have no choice but to migrate to the electronic format. Providers will base their decision on economics as will ultimately the consumer.

Content does not need to be free, but it *does* need to be convenient and have some value. I paid for Edwin Dawes' "The Complete Rich Cabinet of Magical Curiousities" on CDROM as it was the only way it was provided. Would I have preferred it in book form? Sure. Would I have paid $300-500 for it? The number of people who would be interested in the material *and* willing to pay for the luxury of book copies would justify the high cost of the book (because of the lower print runs), but fewer people would ultimately have access to the material which would likely create a further decline in the interested population.

Take a look at the Albo books. They are spectacular works collecting the history of magical apparatus, their producers and performers. They are also inordinately expensive for those who do not have substantial resources or those passionate enough to live without other necessities to feed their interest. Don't get me wrong, my order for the Thayer books is already in (thank Byron), but if I was an up-and-coming performer living on Ramen noodles there is no way in heck I could justify that. It took me almost twenty years before I could justify even one volume...

In addition to reading and collecting books, I also design and compose them. In the magic trade I have grunted out books for almost every major publisher in magic. While I have published several smaller titles, I chose to produce interviews with notable magicians for another producer in video. Why?!? I thought it was important for magicians to not only read these performers' and creators' words but to hear their voice and see their reactions to questions. This brings a more personal understanding that one cannot get from the printed page. The hope is that the additional value provided by the video medium would inspire others to seek out the written words of interviewees to learn more about them and their work.

As much as I love books, I love sharing magic with others and if that means that we have to shift part of our focus on other medium I am all for it. It is important for our industry to promote itself to the public-at-large and to support the work of thinking, creative people to ensure that future generations of enthusiasts will continue to enter our world to secure a strong future for the craft.

Whatever medium they choose to work in.

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Postby Bob Cunningham » 12/21/09 10:17 AM

I teach my students to "follow the money" when watching for distributive technologies.

I came across this article today, "Sony Deal, Amazon Announcement Signal Intensifying E-Reader Wars" E-Reader Trends

Yogi Berra famously said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." But if I were investing in the future of e-books, as the famous Magic 8-Ball said, all "signs point to yes".
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Postby the Larry » 12/21/09 05:28 PM

Basic economics clearly shows that digital content is far more economical than printing and distributing it on paper. It is highly unlikely that paper and printing will become cheaper in the future. Quite contrary, raw materials like pulp and energy increase in cost and thus any type of paper products will continue to become more costly.

It is therefore inevitable that digital media will more or less replace paper based content. Given the state of world economics this transition will come sooner than later, regardless of how much we all love printed books, regardless of how convenient they are, and regardless of how inferior we think e-readers are today and tomorrow.
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/21/09 11:20 PM

All of the economic arguments for ebooks replacing printed content -- at least as they are articulated here, so far -- seem to view commerce as a one-way street.

The reality is that consumption drives commerce; supply follows demand. Consumers choose winners based on their needs (cf. Betamax v. VHS), not based on the producer's needs. And if one producer doesn't provide what the consumer needs, another comes along to earn that business.

So yes, if publishers made the decisions of course they would love to see high-margin e-books replace printed matter (just as Sony loved the idea of everyone having to purchase a Sony product to use Betamax) -- and of course they're taking steps to get out front of that market -- but the decision isn't in their hands.

Now, that's not to say consumers won't choose e-content exclusively (especially as generations become more and more enmeshed in digital media), but to be clear that the winner will be decided by meeting consumer needs, not producer needs.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 12/22/09 02:24 AM

Ive been trying to find a way to address some of these comments without coming off as a smartass, but much of this talk falls into what I do for a living so, screw it; Im a smartass (but Ill keep it brief).

There is nothing basic about the economics that drives consumer spending.

And consumer demand does not always shape consumer spending or the marketplace.

Consumer demand had nothing to do with the reformulation of the laundry detergents that now dominate the marketplace. That was an industry-wide manufacturer choice and it had everything to do with cost and packaging.

Trust me when I tell you that one pound coffee that weighs in at a whopping12 ounces was not driven by consumer demand.

The change of vegetable oil into plastic bottles (which allows it to go rancid faster versus glass) was not a consumer demand.

Perhaps someone can tell me whywhen demand seemed quite highGeorge Lucas waited for so long to release the original three Star Wars films on DVD? (I know.)

I could go on, but this realitythat such manipulation of the marketplace is not always consumer demand drivenis boring except to those who profit from it.

Oh: And oftentimes government intrusion/intervention into the free market (like it or not and this isnt the place to debate that) also shapes consumer choices and thus demand. My primary client sells products that are illegal in eight states. Bummer; because, based on internet sales, theres a demand in all of them.

The only certainty is that whatever happens will.

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Postby NCMarsh » 12/22/09 02:58 AM

Dustin,

You are, of course, correct.

In my eagerness to point out that commerce is not one-way, I over-simplified the role of demand in commercial decisions (though, and I insist on pointing this out, "basic" was not my word).

When an entire industry moves in one direction to protect their own interests, the consumer is left without choice. It is also the case that such decisions create opportunities for those with their ears to the ground who are willing to move away from the herd (cf. Southwest airlines and bag fees).

As to "whatever happens will," I certainly agree.

It is worth noting that my alma mater keeps several niche publishers in business through the need otherwise unobtainable texts. Even with tight margins, an enthusiastic reader base (and enthusiastic readers -- in my experience -- are enthusiastic about the experience of reading) can sustain printed publishing in certain niches.

On a tangentially related subject:

Do any of these electronic readers have the ability to make marginal notes, underlining, etc. on a page?

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Postby the Larry » 12/22/09 04:03 AM

Nobody talks about niche publishing here. We are discussing if digital content will on a large scale replace printed content and when this is likely to happen. Today there are companies that still press LPs - that is not the point. Of course, some amount of books will always be printed and it could very well be that magic is a niche where printed matter will remain strong for a long time, but I am not betting on it seeing the DVD magician generation. It is but only a small step to go from DVD to digitally delivered videos. And if you look around a little bit then you can see that this transition is already happening.

The comparison of Betamax vs VHS is, allow me to say, stupid. Because that would apply to Kindle vs Nook for example or Kindle vs SonyReader but not to paper vs digital. Video tapes happened and so will digital contents (ebooks, emagazines, ...). Exactly in what format with what reader and so on remains to be seen, but it is going to happen.

Well, I have worked for decades in the media industry. If you have a way to look behind the scenes what is going on today inside the big players you will know that this whole digital content thing is already much much further along than what you can read in the press. If some of the things I happen to know would be public information the discussion would look quite different.

Supply is just as important as demand. Several years ago digital content suffered under the lack of supply. Simply put, most of the content you wanted was not available digital. This has changed today. Most of the interesting content is available digital. Once publishers will end printing, demand has no way but to shift to digital contents. And even those screaming and kicking will have no choice but to come along, or go fishing rather than reading. That choice remains.
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Postby mrgoat » 12/22/09 06:22 AM

NCMarsh wrote:The reality is that consumption drives commerce; supply follows demand.


Of course! That is why Apple launched the iPhone and the App Store. Millions of people all round the world were DEMANDING apps for their phone and DEMANDING they pay for them.

Oh hang on a minute, no one was, were they?

So clearly you can force consumers to decide they want something if you package it well.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/22/09 09:03 AM

NCMarsh wrote:...On a tangentially related subject:

Do any of these electronic readers have the ability to make marginal notes, underlining, etc. on a page?

N.


That's part of the hypertext document model from back in the 1980s.

Been a part of Adobe Acrobat for a while and now you can get: http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader/
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Postby Jim Maloney » 12/22/09 09:48 AM

NCMarsh wrote:Do any of these electronic readers have the ability to make marginal notes, underlining, etc. on a page?


Nearly all of them do.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/22/09 12:30 PM

Here's a more contemporary issue to examine

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/20 ... y-doctorow

For our more out-of-touch readers - it's essentaily like saying you can have the book but you can't read it in the sunlight or under anything but a special lamp.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/22/09 12:49 PM

Almost exactly a year ago this month Distribution Video Audio Inc., the last major supplier of pre-recorded VHS tapes, shipped their last truckload. VHS is no longer supported with new releases.

The "winner" in the VHS vs. Betamax format war was eventually replaced with a better technology, DVD, which had beaten out the Laserdisk format. While VHS players still work well there is no new content produced for them. The same for Laserdisks. Today the format is DVD and Blu-Ray which, in time, will be replaced with something else that will require the consumer to buy a new accessing device.

The niche magazine publishing market is a different animal and is where Genii resides. As I understand it, most of Richard's subscribers want a printed magazine, a tangible product they can hold in their hands and read without batteries or an access device that will only be viable until the e-reader wars declare a winner.

Further, Genii's production infrastructure is geared to producing a printed magazine. Converting would be a massive and costly gamble. Subscribers would be lost and subscribers gained. How long would it take for subscriptions to stabilize and earn back the cost of conversion? Who among those advocating for conversion to digital wants to put up the money for the conversion? Even a simultaneous digital edition is fraught with the inevitability of digital theft.

That, to me, is the crux of the matter. If you think there is a viable market for a digital magic magazine not a publication put out as a hobby but one that can actually bring in a family-supporting income - by all means put your money where your opinions are.

Im guessing the project would need $100,000 to $200,000 to get off the ground and at least a couple of years to fully penetrate the market and become established IF there is sufficient support within the magic community. Who wants to put up their money and a couple of years time?
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Postby Roger M. » 12/22/09 01:09 PM

I read stuff like this forum online, but frankly I'm not at all interested in Genii magazine in any sort of "digital edition".

I'm in a different mindset when I read my monthly Genii.

I want Genii just as it is, so I can lay on my bed and read it, sit on the beach and read it, read it on a plane, stick it in the outside pocket of my suitcase when I fly, fold it lengthwise and stick it in my coat pocket, and do a few dozen other things that would leave a "electro-book" with multiple repair issues, all likely within weeks (or days) of taking it out of the box.

No thanks to e-book readers and digital Genii's........and I'm probably not alone in this general line of thinking with regards to things that "paper" does well that "electronics" can't do at all.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/22/09 01:14 PM

My intention is to keep publishing a paper magazine until it is absolutely necessary to ALSO publish a digital edition.

My fear is that eventually the printers who produce small run magazines will eventually go out of business (ditto for the small run textbook printers who print all the magic books in our little world). When that happens, we will be left without a choice in the matter.

Don't ask me when it will happen. Like everyone else, I don't know. Every day I put both hands on my butt to check that it's still there. :)
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/22/09 01:21 PM

Just my perspective here:

I like reading books and magazines.

When it comes time to research - electronic indexing and then scans of the material suffice. At that point it goes back to the choice between seeing what's there or enjoying the material in context. Finding that cited material is inaccessible for casual reading pushes the argument toward electronic media for the large part.

The monthly timely reading experience in context remains valuable to me.

Thanks for Genii Magazine Richard - and happy Holidays

-Jon
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/22/09 02:04 PM

Mr. Goat's response to "demand drives commerce":

Of course! That is why Apple launched the iPhone and the App Store. Millions of people all round the world were DEMANDING apps for their phone and DEMANDING they pay for them.

Oh hang on a minute, no one was, were they?


"Demand drives commerce" does not mean "demand precedes a commercial offering"

Demand drives commerce in the same way natural selection drives the development of a species. Businesses offer products and services, and those that don't fill demand die. Likewise, those that leave unmet demand on the table risk losing that business to a competitor. Those that find unmet demand and are able to profitably supply it, own the rest of us....

Demand is the oxygen of commerce. And as long as there is oxygen in this little corner where people like ink and paper, someone can light a match and keep it burning....
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/22/09 02:10 PM

And just a week after karaoke got old at the bar - we have guitar hero and rock band for home use.
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Postby Joe Mckay » 12/23/09 10:43 AM

SLATE MAGAZINE (one of the best websites on the net) gives an interesting over-view on the product that MrGoat mentioned at the start of this thread. The journalist agrees with my magic 8-ball...

Outlook not so good

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/23/09 10:58 AM

Still waiting for a bathroom friendly reader.
Till then - paper it is and then it goes away.
The weeklys at least. - short shelf life/context.

Monthlys... probably a good idea to treat "back issues" as a split subject for research versus collecting where the research side is electronic and online.
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Postby DrDanny » 12/23/09 11:55 AM

I popped for a Sony ereader last year sometime. It was recommended by several friends (and a few enemies) as the best available option. I'm hardly a Luddite, but I hated the thing.
I packed it with downloaded PDF books, mostly from Racherbaumer's site, e.g. Leg. Kabbala, et al. I found the zooming capabilities maddening: if the text was small enough to fit an entire paragraph on page, the illustrations were too small to see; zoom up to see the pix, no text available.

But my largest complaint is with "purchasable" materials. Publishers want to license copies to you that cannot be shared or resold, and give very little in the way of a price break. I'm not talking about so-called "piracy" either, but normal transactions that book lovers have enjoyed for centuries. For only a couple dollars more you can buy an actual hardback which can then be shared or sold to 2nd-hand bookstores. Also, a wall of packed bookshelves is at least an R-19 insulator, yes?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: there's really no compelling reason to switch to e-readers. They're expensive, unfriendly, and serve no purpose that I can detect except to make the publishers more money.

OTOH, for ephemeral stuff like newspapers and magazines, I find electronic copy quite nice. I end up tossing hardcopy magazines and newspapers anyway, and most before I've had a chance to fully digest them. I think bits are friendlier to the environment than huge piles of rotting paper. And I've gotten a LOT of value from the collections at askalexander.org, way more than the price of CARC dues.
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Postby NCMarsh » 12/23/09 11:56 AM

There is a worthwhile Times article cited in the Slate piece Joe links to:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/ ... ook&st=cse

It reads like a dynamic situation. Jump in too early (the Slate piece mentions that Newsweek lost a lot of money betting that magazines were going to move to CD ROM) and lose a lot of money, jump in too late (music industry and digital music) and lose a lot of money.

If someone can time the wave just right....

The other thing that comes out of the Times piece is a picture of a divide between publishers and retailers. Publishers are selling eBooks at the same wholesale cost as hard copies, and are now delaying the release of eBooks so that e-sales don't cannibalize paper sales.

On the other hand, Amazon is heavily invested in the success of eBooks -- they're selling most of them at a loss right now and, of course, have the Kindle.

So the broad picture painted in the conversation above of "eBook = bigger margins = better for publisher" isn't quite accurate, and there are competing tides pulling on the supply side. At the moment, publishers are acting aggressively to protect their paper sales at the cost of pixel sales.

The more I read/consider it, the more convinced I become that the analogue for print vs. electronic publishing is radio vs. television. When TV came out, there was quite a bit of speculation that it meant the end of radio. Why just listen to sound when you can have sound and picture? The reality is that they survive separately.

This seems a viable scenario for publishing, with paper surviving alongside pixel...particularly if major publishers continue taking action to protect paper sales

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Postby Eoin O'hare » 12/23/09 12:00 PM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Still waiting for a bathroom friendly reader.

Magazines printed on tissue paper?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/23/09 12:54 PM

Armchair academics aside, just where do we read?
In bed, in the recliner in the living room, in the bathroom, maybe in the doctor's office?

Even our more deluded visitors know that some weekly magazines are compiled from articles designed to be read in one sitting.

Some of us are not amused to buy a magazine to check a cited reference. Nor to hear special pleadings that scholarly works are not treated as scholarly works - if you've submitted and gotten published you know the courtesies - and the drill. Most who want to look up an old item (more than a couple months) really don't care to wade through color glossy pages of advertisments for things that now look quaint compared to the knockoffs and upgrades which hit the market years ago.

Then ... we get to the carbon footprint of our paper fetish.

From someone who's still working on his handwriting,

-Jon
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Postby the Larry » 12/23/09 02:50 PM

David Alexander wrote:Further, Genii's production infrastructure is geared to producing a printed magazine. Converting would be a massive and costly gamble. Subscribers would be lost and subscribers gained. How long would it take for subscriptions to stabilize and earn back the cost of conversion? Who among those advocating for conversion to digital wants to put up the money for the conversion? Even a simultaneous digital edition is fraught with the inevitability of digital theft.


Mr. Alexander, I have to respectfully but vigorously disagree. I don't know a single publisher who has not digitized his pre-press process. By that I mean that any publication today is composed on the computer and then most often exported as PDF for printing purposes. I don't know how Mr. Kaufman does his work but I would be very surprised if he does not send a PDF or some other digital format to his printer.

That means what you call 'converting would be a massive and costly gamble' is simply complete nonsense. Genii could be offered as a digital magazine tomorrow without further cost or work. And if Genii would be offered both in print and digital, no subscribers would be lost. And if the digital edition would be priced fairly, that is passing on savings in print and distribution to the customer, I would not be surprised if a good part of the subscribers would go for the digital edition. At this point Mr. Kaufman would earn the same amount of money. He would make the same amount of profit. It would simply mean a lower cost for those who prefer the digital version. Actually, I think he would make more money, because he would capture those who would only buy the digital version, and there are a few of those, too. Or he could price the digital version such that he makes a bit more on the digital edition and still offer customers a price break.

I am sure you will now say: "But you are forgetting piracy." That is always the excuse of those who have no clue. I have run into this dozens of times with other publishing executives. On the surface this argument looks logical, but those who actually have studied and measured it know that it is not true. Not true at all. It would take me too long to go into all the nuances why this is so, but let me give you a short explanation why piracy would not increase but decrease, yes you are reading this correctly. When you start offering digital versions of your content sales go up and piracy goes down. I have seen the numbers and it makes sense. Here is why:

1) Piracy already happens even if the content is only printed. A quick look at the various file sharing sites will prove that point. I have never checked this for magic books but I would be surprised if I could not find Genii issues and the various Kaufman books there.

2) Those who for whatever reason want the digital version (maybe because they want it NOW, or because they like searchability, or several other reasons) are 'driven' to piracy if no digital version is available.

3) Piracy has a positive marketing effect. There are people who will learn about your products and your contents through pirating channels. If they like your content they are likely to pay for it eventually.

It is mostly 2) that accounts for the majority of the effect. We could see this clearly with Napster. Customers wanted to download music but couldn't do so legally. So they became pirates using Napster. Once Apple put iTunes up all of this changed to the point where big labels have dropped DRM or are considering DRM altogether. The vast majority of us is perfectly willing to pay a fair price for the contents we seek.

Forgive me for this post. It is not my intention to lecture anybody here, and certainly not Mr. Kaufman who is putting out a respectable magic magazine. But if I would still be a publishing executive I would not hesitate a second to offer my content also in digital form.
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