National Geographic Launches Paid Digital Product, Promotes Griffin to New Digital Role

Posted on 5/19/2010 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

“National Geographic Interactive adapts the analog magazine to be more easily and logically experienced in a digital form,” reads the description of the new product, on offer for $15 for 12 issues. The publisher also promoted longtime director of photography David Griffin to the newly created position of executive editor, electronic publishing, for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines. Such changes at one of the most venerable titles may be a preview of the publishing industry’s future—and, in turn, the future of the images it uses.

The flippable digital book is hosted by Zinio, a company that works with publishers worldwide to, in its own words, reinvent reading. From a consumer stand point, Zinio offers the opportunity to shop for, search inside, read, share and save digital content in new ways and on many devices. currently hosts more than  50,000 digital magazines and books, as well as e-stores localized in 15 languages.

Still, the market’s reaction to the paid digital National Geographic is not certain. Yes, the cost is nearly 80% less than the cover price, but there is still wide-scale opposition to paid online content. Yet some paid digital products thrive, and new evidence that consumers are willing to pay for digital goods keeps emerging. For instance, a recent Ad Age white paper highlighted that Millennials, the most wired demographic, understand that there is a price to pay for quality content.

National Geographic clearly sees opportunity in the digital domain. Its current digital business is already more diverse than most realize. For instance, the company runs localized Web sites in Italy and Japan. Griffin’s new role focuses primarily on bringing the magazine’s unique brand of visual storytelling to e-publishing platforms, including the iPad.

National Geographic Society president of publishing John Q. Griffin stresses the visual aspect of the company’s business: “National Geographic has built its reputation on excellence in visual storytelling. Digital platforms provide readers with new ways to interact with photography and video."

Indeed. Now, the photography industry needs to figure out how to get paid for these new ways in which readers are interacting with the content. Though this information has not been disclosed, it is a fairly good guess that most new digital publications feature images that were licensed under blanket “all digital uses” contracts, with little new digital revenue trickling down to content creators.

Copyright © Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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