CLOSE TO HOME: After a year of brutal retrenchment in print advertising, the American Magazine Conference was rebranded the Magazine Innovation Conference, and kept close to the home of many of its constituents, New York, where on Wednesday panelists focused mostly on nonprint revenue streams. (Next year’s conference will be in Chicago.)
On a panel on the “magazine brand business model of tomorrow,” Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist, founder of enthusiast magazine publisher Active Interest Media, said less than 40 percent of the company’s revenues come from print. And a panel of digital publishing specialists pointed out that a user-friendly e-reader that has Internet capabilities, a large color touchscreen and video capabilities could be available from several manufacturers in just six months. Aside from the Kindle, the Sony e-reader and a forthcoming device from Barnes & Noble, executives from Condé Nast, Hearst and Time Inc. have come together to develop a new e-reader for their products.
The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta, interviewed onstage by The New York Times’ David Carr, talked about what he’d learned reporting his recent book on Google — including the idea that the engineer or developer should also be considered a content creator. Still, said Auletta, many of the Google crew lack “emotional intelligence,” using the Google Books controversy and lawsuits as an example of how innovation on its own can only get you so far.
In another presentation, David Liu, co-founder and ceo of The Knot, talked about how concern that growth would plateau led his company to launch about 200 niche sites, such as Hindu Wedding, Second Wedding and Gothic Wedding. (“You think I’m joking,” Liu said about Gothic Wedding. “But between the vampire trend and Halloween falling on a Saturday, it’s going to be huge.”) The result was third-quarter growth this year of 19 percent to those sites. “If you’re not pursuing a niche strategy,” Liu said bluntly, “you’re not going to be here in five years.”
— Irin Carmon and Stephanie D. Smith