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Sydney, Australia — The tsunami of disruptive technological change sweeping the publishing industry is an opportunity, not a crisis, and magazines must reinvent themselves if they are to not only survive, but thrive.
So argue the publishers of COSMOS, the celebrated science magazine, who today launched an innovative iPad edition – the first of a series of planned multi-platform products. The iPad edition is the result of nine months of development and testing, and represents a complete reconceptualization of the print magazine.
“It’s not good enough to just produce a print replica on the iPad,” said Wilson da Silva, editor-in-chief of COSMOS. “You need to completely re-imagine what a magazine is editorially, which is what we’ve done, but also maintain a clear narrative structure throughout. The functionality of the iPad is fundamentally changing the game, and only those who capitalise on this will prosper.
“The media has been overly concerned with advertisers for too long. Now that ad revenue is declining, many publishers are cutting back on editorial resources – and that’s a mistake. What the industry needs to do is refocus on the fundamentals: their readers. At COSMOS, our revenue has always come mostly from readers rather than advertisers. Hence, we’re excited about a world where creating engaging narrative content that readers want, and are willing to pay for, is the name of the game, because that’s been what we’ve excelled at for years.”
On the iPad, this means not just providing excellent content at lower cost, but also the seamless integration of video and animation, live updates, multiple layers of reader interaction and a cross-platform approach to engaging audiences.
“If anything can save quality journalism, it will be the readers who are willing to pay for excellence in writing, photography and design. And those readers, who engage with magazines more than any other medium, will attract the advertisers – which is the way it should be,” said da Silva.
COSMOS, which celebrates its 7th birthday with the June 2012 issue, specializes in long-form features and lush design. The winner of 45 journalism and publishing awards – including Magazine of the Year awards twice in its native Australia – it has developed a strong following around the world. Based in Sydney, its content is nevertheless global in scope, attracting authors such as Richard Dawkins, Margaret Wertheim, Steven Pinker, Paul Davies and Simon Singh.
Founded by scientists and media professionals who believe in the transformative power of clear and engaging writing, it is now set to take on the world with the launch of its iPad edition.
“What COSMOS has done on the iPad platform is both innovative and itself disruptive,” said Dr Alan Finkel, the Chancellor of Monash University in Melbourne and the chairman and co-founder of Cosmos Media, the magazine’s publisher.
“We’ve not only re-imagined COSMOS for the iPad, but will be boosting frequency, creating bonus iPad issues, giving print subscribers free access to the iPad editions, as well as free access to the complete digital archive. I don’t think any other publisher has so completely overhauled its business model.
“COSMOS has done so because we’ve set our sights on the future. We’re preparing not just for the eventual demise of print, but looking to take a dominant position in the emerging tablet market. We aim to be the world’s number 1 science magazine in five years,” said Finkel.
The COSMOS Magazine app, launched today, runs on the powerful Oomph digital publishing platform created by Mogeneration, a successful Sydney-based developer of over 100 iOS and Android apps who worked closely with the COSMOS team to push the boundaries of functionality.
“The iPad is changing the media industry in unpredictable ways – in our case, for the better,” said Kylie Ahern, CEO of Cosmos Media. “The App Store is global, so the iPad edition of COSMOS –which has always been global in outlook – can suddenly tap an international market. COSMOS can compete with the world’s leading science magazines on an equal footing: at a compelling price and available as soon as it is published, without the delays and cost of shipping and distribution from Australia, which the print issue has had to face.
“That’s why we’ve doubled our editorial staff in the past six months, and have completely overhauled our business strategy. For us, print is now just another platform. And we have a raft of new iPad, digital and online products set to launch in the next 18 months,” added Ahern.
The COSMOS Magazine app is free, and readers can also download a complete issue free from the App Store. Individual copies of each monthly edition can be purchased for US$4.99 each, and annual subscriptions for US$24.99.