Magazines have been doing electronic publishing for a long time. Magazine articles, for example, have been in databases for at least 20 years, and some of the magazine publishers were the earliest to leverage the Web–and some with tremendous success even at the very beginning. (I was at ZDNet briefly in the 1990s when the traffic seemed to double monthly.) Yet some other magazines have been laggards, nervous perhaps about what the digital product might do to the print. Still others have developed interesting mixed models, where some content in the print ends up free on the Web while other content is available only to print subscibers. And others have developed wholly different digital products that share little more than the brand with the print product. There is no end to the potential models, and perhaps for very good reason–every audience is different and every mix of advertisers is different.
I happened on a very thoughtful discussion about magazine digital publishing models. Staci Kramer of paidContent.org moderated “a fireside chat” with Jim Spanfeller, CEO of Forbes.com and Jeff Price, President of SI.com at the SIIA conference in NYC earlier this week. The video can be watched in its entirety here; it’s about 30 minutes long, and well worth your time if you are thinking about these issues.