AdAge has posted an interview with Jann Wenner, owner of Rolling Stone, Men's Journal and US Weekly. The company plans on launching an iPad edition of US Weekly later this week and AdAge refers to it in the same breath as the magazine's NOOK and Kindle editions – the app "will be a relatively unenhanced affair,' Ad Age's Nat Ives says.
Wenner is fairly famous for dismissing the iPad, and he has apparently not changed his mind. Wenner's attitude towards tablet editions is, ironically, not far off from some of this things record producers said about rock and roll.
"It's a nice marginal revenue stream if you don't spend too much money on it. But I think publishers have learned what I said long ago: a replica is a good thing, but you don't want all kinds of videos and interactive features on it. That's not what you buy a magazine for. You don't get satisfaction from turning the page and seeing a TV show or a video game," Wenner told AdAge.
But what Wenner is describing, of course, has nothing to do with tablet magazines. He doesn't, I guess, see enhanced digital editions as magazines at all. Fine, one can argue about the term to be used, but the reality is that digital publications, if you will, are growing and are the future. That doesn't mean print will go away – though it's possible – just that a new platform has been created and Wenner wants no part of it.
I'm glad. Wenner Media shouldn't be creating tablet editions. In fact, please, please, don't launch that US Weekly app. Who needs another replica edition thrown inside the Newsstand anyways?
But I have a feeling there is a battle going on at Wenner Media over the future of digital editions as some editors try to convince management that there is a future in digital editions. You can almost read it in the way the editor of US Weekly describes the new replica edition app.
"Right now it's just a basic replica, but over time we'll see and make adjustments," Mike Steele, editor-in-chief, is quoted by AdAge as saying. But adding in some video or audio to a replica is hardly creating a tablet edition, it's like putting a headlight on a horse, how very modern – and if Wenner has his way it's doubtful there will be any money allocated to the editorial staff to do even that.