Bonnier Revs Up Roadtrip

Joining the likes of News Corp.’s forthcoming tablet newspaper The Daily and Richard Branson’s iPad-only magazine, Project, Sweden’s Bonnier Corp. has created Roadtrip, a made-for-the-tablet publication.
The new form shows how publishers are experimenting on the iPad as they try to figure out how to make money off the tablet. Bonnier, whose Popular Science was one of the first publications sold on the iPad when it hit stores in April, is now looking at creating products like Roadtrip that aren’t enhanced versions of its magazines.
Tablet-exclusive pubs can let publishers experiment with formats in ways they may not be able to with an established brand. With Roadtrip, Bonnier combined two subject areas—cars and travel—into one publication. The first issue is a free preview that’s sponsored by American Express and Visit Florida, and five more are scheduled to follow in 2011. Future pricing hasn’t been determined, but it will likely be a combination of paid and free.

But the gamble is whether tablet-only publications can get readers to discover and return to something that doesn’t have the name recognition of a well-known print brand.
Chris Tauber, brand director for Bonnier’s travel and lifestyle group, said Bonnier kept Roadtrip’s costs low by creating it with existing staff, and that it would give the company the opportunity to learn how people discover content on the iPad.
“We’re trying different things,” he said. “We’re looking at doing photo-based, mini-publications, getting away from what a magazine is. We’ve found photos look really good on the iPad. With travel titles, we’re looking at doing just the horizontal [view]. Other titles, we’ll take those brands and see how best to reflect them on the iPad. I don’t think there’s one answer.”