Weapons of mass distraction have been deployed all over the net: social networks, games, aggregators, curators and apps are all attempting to get a greater share of users’ attention.
With such an information overload on heavily funded digital ventures, publishers have little to do in an attempt to get back eyeballs and money for content.
I still believe in proper storytelling and journalism, though.
Walled gardens and closed ecosystems for content won’t probably work anymore. Going back to print to avoid competition with other media is a short-term strategy. It won’t work in the foreseeable future again, it might still work in 2015 for niche audiences, but won’t grow much more than that.
What I want
I have a conflict of interest running thePrintLabs, but not much of it developing PressRoom, and I’m still a great consumer of great stories. If I put myself on the readers’ side, here’s what I’d like to have.
I love reading great stories that don’t do click-baiting, and that live for a longer time than the current news lifecycle. I don’t like discovering those stories on Facebook, but I prefer recommendations from friends and influencers. Much of them are on my Twitter stream, some of them come from curated sources like long reads and the likes.
I prefer reading original stories, that are told from a unique perspective and have a well-presented viewpoint. The narrative arc is personal and original and might be compelling to read today as well as in six months time. Good stories don’t have time, especially on digital. I like archives, and people throwing out a great piece from the archive, presenting it again because something happened that could lead more people to have an interest on it.
I like organic searches. I do a lot of them, while I use very little Google News. When you really look for something well told, you do searches. You don’t browse. Coming out: I like aggregators. I love the time they spend for me to search, read, present and curate stories that I wouldn’t have the time to find myself.
And still, all of this isn’t working for digital advertisement nor for issue based subscription plans. If you target organic searches, curations and long form stories, it’s probably harder than ever for a publisher to monetize the stories.
I’m willing to pay for stories
I am willing to pay for a pretty high — in digital terms — amount of money for the curation and presentation service that a smart aggregator would do for me.
I’m no shy to say that I love Stack Magazines. They collect and curate independent magazines from indie publishers, and send them over to subscribers in monthly batches. It’s a great service, that enables subscribers to get more with less effort. It’s reasonable in pricing and really provides value. I wouldn’t otherwise subscribe to all or part of them if I didn’t get the curated batch. It’s an enabler, it gives me peace of mind and they turned me into a fan.
Well, enough said, I would like to have that on digital too.
I travel a lot, I use public transport, I have little space at home, I want a central place to read my magazines. I want them on digital, available at a fingertip, light and portable, searchable and collectible.
I want to subscribe to a service where multiple sources are curated and collected for me, then presented in the best possible reader for the device I’m using at the moment, on a smart subscription basis with a digital-savvy pricing.
Good content, great narrative, and clever magazine publishers should join forces to become bigger and stronger on a greatly conceived platform enabling readers to subscribe to their content with a lot of confidence.
Readability once tried to do that but they failed. They probably didn’t take into account the necessary one-to-one work of convincing publishers to jump on board on the experimentation.
Someone once said to do things that don’t scale.
I want to do something that can’t possibly be scaled. I’m meeting indie publishers, indie authors, publishing stakeholders, big corporations. And at the same time, I’m building PressRoom which is an enabler.
I want to have 50 indie magazines on board with PressRoom, and then aggregate them into a digital-first, working, business model. If you don’t like the status quo, you need to create a new one in the first place. Shall we discuss this further?