Worse than the music industry?

Those newspaper and magazine publishers are something else. They don’t much like Amazon and the Kindle because if they want to offer their publications for sale on the Kindle, Amazon will take half the money. If the content is offered exclusively through Amazon, the publisher will get 70% of the take.

Skiff, the new company backed by Time Inc., News Corp., Conde Nast, Hearst Corp., and Meredith Corp, will come out with e-reader hardware, e-reader software for other devices, and an online store where the publishers will offer their newspapers and magazines for sale.

This excerpt from the Skiff press release highlights why the whole thing makes me uneasy.

“Skiff’s goal is to connect publishers and marketers with consumers,” said Gilbert Fuchsberg, president of Skiff, which has offices in both New York City and Palo Alto, Calif. “We will accomplish this by delivering engaging reading experiences that consumers will value and a business model that respects publishers’ needs.”

It’s all about the publishers. They’re going to run this show the way they want to, and the customer will have very little to say about it. In the 1340 word press release, the consumer is mentioned exactly four times. The second mention in the quoted paragraph is one of only two instances in which the poor consumer is being treated as anything but a revenue source … and just barely. They mention advertising and the ability to deliver metrics to the advertisers with far more enthusiasm than the people who will ultimately decide whether this thing will work at all.

Even the Skiff site has a link ‘For Publishers,’ but the closest they come to talking to the great unwashed masses is a link named ‘Skiff Service.’ Follow the link to see a schematic of the service, with the publishers on one side, and e-readers, smartphones, tablets, and notebooks on the other. They can’t even go so far as to mention the people who control those devices and pay for their precious service.

I understand it’s business. They need to make money to deliver a product. The problem is that the press release is making a terrible first impression to those who have the money. I don’t want to be connected with publishers and marketers. I just want to read, and be treated fairly and with respect. I see no sign that Skiff sees their potential customers this way.

Skiff will sink in short order if it continues to curry favour from publishers and advertisers to the exclusion of the consumer.


Update: News Corp bought the Skiff publishing platform, sans e-reader, in 2010. They appear to have quietly killed it sometime in 2013. The Skiff site is gone and searching for ‘skiff’ on the News Corp site returns no results. I’m amused at Rupert Murdoch. Not as easy as you thought, eh Rupert?

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