For Publishers, The iPad Presents a Problem

Today David Carr takes a look at publishing houses finally shaking hands with Apple, and asks “Is the iPad just a new way to give away magazines?” He says that the companies need to be careful that they don’t give up too much by dealing with Apple, but it seems to be too late for that:

Chip Block, a now retired publishing executive who has consulted all over the industry, worries that publishers are replicating a print model that is short on revenue from consumers and leaves the industry once again reliant on the whims of advertisers.

First of all, can we just appreciate that name for a minute? Chip Block. That is one solid name. We’d believe anything someone with that kind of name tells us. If Chip Block tells us Sunny D is good for your skin, you better believe we’re taking a bath in that yellow crap tomorrow. Anyway! Back to Block’s insights. He says that what Conde Nast and Hearst should be doing is concentrating on making consumers happy, not advertisers:

Publishers lost track of that idea years ago when they embarked on a mad scramble for ad revenue at the expense of both product and circulation economics. I asked this question years ago: who put the popcorn salesmen in charge of strategy? It may be that movie theaters can make more money from popcorn than revenue from admissions, but that does not mean that the popcorn salesmen know what makes a movie attractive or anything else about the economics of production and promotion.

Very well put by Block.