Sports Illustrated Unveiling e-Reader Product

Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated is the latest publisher to reveal how it would translate a print magazine to magazine-friendly e-readers that are expected to come out in the next several months.
Time Inc. has been working with Web site design firm The Wonderfactory, which helped create the SI tablet version and which is doing the same for Time and other Time Inc. magazines, according to Wonderfactory founder and creative director David Link.
Link’s firm also is working on an application that would translate all of Time Inc.’s magazines to the iPhone.
Publishers have been scrambling to figure out how to adapt their print magazines to small screens in response to the iPhone’s popularity and anticipated adoption of tablets offering color, sound and video features.
Importantly, the devices all offer the prospect of charging readers at a time when publishers can’t depend on ad revenue to grow as it used to.
Condé Nast, for one, has introduced an iPhone application for displaying its print magazines, starting with GQ; and an imagined version of how Wired would translate to a tablet.
In the case of SI, the tablet version would take full advantage of the magazine’s rich stock of photos and video, said Terry McDonell, editor of the Sports Illustrated Group.
Readers also would be able to change the order in which the content is displayed, customize it around their favorite sport and send photos and articles to friends.
“We wanted color, a magazine experience translated in a way that makes it new,” McDonell said during a demontration of the tablet version that he gave to reporters Dec. 2. “Most important, it’s about curation. It’s about a point of view. We wanted to keep that DNA and come up with something new.”
McDonell said a pay model for the SI tablet version hasn’t been determined. But he said that in focus groups, people expressed willingness to pay for the tablet version in addition to the printed magazine.
One way the tablet version would incentivize people to pay would be by offering advantages over the magazine and Web site, such as additional photos that don’t make it in the magazine or online. SI also is developing new games solely for the tablet. Last but not least, SI plans to make videos of its iconic swimsuit issue shoots available on the tablet.
While the printed magazine would be available in its entirety on the tablet, McDonell estimated that fully 70 percent of the content on the tablet version would be material that readers couldn’t find online.
“I’m not working as hard for [the reader] on my Web site as I am here,” he explained, referring to the effort that will go into the tablet version.

Take a look at a demo of the tablet here.