Applauding the Treeless Magazine

Rupert Murdoch’s new eMag The Daily launched today for the Apple iPad. So far so good, in my opinion. Assuming top-notch content, the subscription model looks fairly reasonable at $40 per year or $1 per week, especially for devices like the iPad that will eventually retire the printed mag. But here are three points of caution for this to work in the long run:

  1. The publisher must guarantee full access to previously purchased content, with reasonable guidelines for Fair Use similar to existing paper media. I should be able to save my purchased content offline and cut/paste as needed when referencing an article in my work, with proper bibliographic entry of course.
  2. At $40 per year, advertising must be kept to a comfortable minimum. Like current paper mags, if it gets to the point that much of the content is advertising, I should not have to pay again for this. In other words, if advertising goes up, the price goes down.
  3. I must have control over how my my personal information is shared. For example, my subscription billing and contact info must remain private if I so choose. Also, while it’s reasonable for The Daily to collect general viewing statistics to ensure quality content, these should not be associated with a specific subscriber. My preferences in reading news, weather or sports are mine alone.

I can only assume that mistakes will be made along the way. But as a starting point, the move from print to screen really is an opportunity for publishing to evolve – to bring what has worked across the divide while discovering new and better ways to do things. I wish Murdoch and others much success in making a sustainable and respectful business transition.

References

The Daily for iPad Arrives, New iOS Subscription Billing Included: Apple News

Stanford Copyright & Fair Use – Fair Use

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