Kindle VP says print-digital transition will be slow

17/10/2012 — 1 Comment

Print-digital transition for magazinesHow long have we been listening to the digital-media divas beat-up magazine publishers over their lack of progress in the print-digital transition? Well, this quote really cheered me up.

“Print is so good, that this is going to be a nice, long, slow transition.”

It’s from Russ Grandinetti, VP for Kindle content at Amazon, speaking at the Association of Magazine Media’s annual conference in San Francisco. Did you read what he said> Nice… Long… Slow. No doom, no gloom, just confirmation that the print-digital transition is going to take a while.

So what’s going on? Why has a guy who’s whole reason for being is digital content come over all warm and fuzzy about printed magazines?

Well for one thing it’s the truth. The rumours of print’s death have been greatly exagerated – most magazine publishers would find it tough to turn the lights on in the morning without their print revenues. If only the magazine industry would stop panicking long enough to realise that.

More importantly Mr Grandinetti desperately wants magazine content on his devices and he seems to have, refreshingly, decided to ditch the Firefighter’s shrill cry of “Jump! The platform’s on fire” for the Estate Agent’s soothing “How can we help you relocate with the least possible upset”.

None of this means that print will do anything but decline over time; without the miracle of an overnight switch from audience and advertisers, publishers are going to have to make their way in a predominantly digital world eventually. But woudn’t it be nice if the print disruptors and the digital enablers saw the sense in swapping digital sticks for digital carrots.

Anything that helps publishers work with print and digital in parallel is a good thing. Grandinetti noted in his speech that when Kindle started out it was print books that were it’s toughest competition. Similarly, it’s print that gets in the way of everyone reading magazine content on their Kindles or iPhones or whatever. Much better then, to help publishers build out the complimentary advantages of digital – tracking, ecommerce, portability – and celebrate the enduring practicality of ink on paper, at least until the rumours of its death are no longer exaggerated.

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