Guest Post from Anthony Policastro
Amazon vs. Google

Why Aren't Magazine Publishers Thinking About This Stuff?!

Question Mark I let my Sports Illustrated subscription lapse awhile back but my wife was kind enough to renew it last year for my birthday.  While catching up on my SI reading tonight, I happened to notice all the references inside to

Have you seen that site?  If not, take a look.  It's a full archive of SI and it's freely accessible to everyone, even if you're not a subscriber.  I've been doing searches on it for the past hour or so and I'm rediscovering all sorts of great SI content from when I was a kid.  I could probably waste away the rest of the night searching for things like "70's Pirates", "Roberto Clemente", etc.

OK, it's not that uncommon for magazines to open their archives like this, so what's the big deal?  I don't have all night to search and read this stuff.  Why doesn't SI marry this content to an e-strategy that they could further monetize?  How about letting me search for "Roberto Clemente" and offering to create a PDF, an EPUB or a mobi file I can pull down to my computer, Kindle, Sony Reader, etc.?  Go ahead and include the ads -- I'm fine seeing them in here.  Or, sell it to me ad-free for $4.99.  I'm not going to sit and read this on my computer for hours but I'd love to have it on my Kindle where I'll read every last word.

SI publishes a variety of books built off content that was published in their magazine long ago.  They have "best of" books on all the major sports.  Why not let me create my own based on the writers or topics I'm most interested in?  Steve Rushin was my favorite sportswriter, but he "retired" a few years ago.  I'd love to gather all his articles into a Kindle book.  I'd even be willing to break my $9.99 Kindle price ceiling for something like that!

Then there's the gift angle.  Wouldn't it be cool to create a custom e-book of SI content for the sports-lover in your family?  Think about the Father's Day promotions they could do around this.

So again, I'll ask the question, why aren't magazine publishers thinking about this stuff?  They seem to be heading down the same rat hole the newspapers have gone down.  Quit whining and start leveraging your content archives!!!


Tom Britt

Just a guess, but probably because magazines are only as good as this month's issue. They/we don't look back that often, and when we do, it's usually for nostalgia and not revenue. Newspapers are worst because they live day-to-day, but point taken. Content is still king, even if the castle is shrinking.

Joe Wikert

Hi Tom. I can see where you might think that's the case, but I just looked up a few of the Sports Illustrated books in the Bookscan service (which provides point-of-sale sell-thru data) and every one I looked at has done extremely well. And every one I looked up is nothing more than a collection of articles/essays that appeared in earlier editions of the magazines. Heck, I've even bought a couple of those books, and they're great!

I'm telling you, there's gold in that archive of theirs...and they're not the only magazine overlooking this opportunity.

Jeff Rutherford

Joe, you're on to something here. Wow, a personalized eBook featuring a friend or family member's favorite players and teams and best games of all time. That'd be an amazing, memorable gift, And, seriously, how hard could it be with the various CMS systems out there to get something up and rolling.

I think Tom is right though. They don't stop to think about the past issues, they're focused on the issue they're working on at the time. But, they should certainly start thinking about how they can make money off the amazing content they have at their fingertips.

Bob Meade

Joe, just in case you don't know, Steve Rushin's blog is here:

wherein you will find some links to his recent work.

He tweets here:

Ann Kingman

I wonder if it's also a rights issue. Perhaps the magazine has publishing rights within the magazine, but book rights remain a separate entity.

Christopher Allen

I've just started to spitball about the lack of clear direction for most print publications online. They are far to quick to give away content and/or duplicate the printed product online just to obtain unique visitors. Give me a purpose driven site that doesn't make every other effort irrelevant.

Check out my thoughts on digital delivery on the iPhone:

Corey Parker

Building a personalized compilation of past articles instantly is a fantastic idea--but Ann Kingman is right to bring up the copyright issue. If Time, Inc. (the owner of SI) doesn't own copyright to the individual articles, then the process Joe described becomes much more complicated, time-consuming, and possibly costly.

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