Magazine publishers already seeing uptake in sales from Apple’s Newsstand

Paidcontent reports that some magazine publishers are seeing substainally higher sales with Apple’s new newsstand service that puts magazines and newspapers in one place, instead of as disparate apps:

Sales across the board have shot up, more than doubled the normal daily sales rate,” according to Adam Hodgkin, co-founder of Exact Editions, which digitises print titles including The Spectator and Press Gazette for purchase over the web and as iOS apps. “Some magazines have experienced a 150 percent increase in sales. This appears to be continuing beyond the launch weekend.

“Exact Editions noticed exceptionally high levels of activity over the weekend. Freemium sample apps were downloaded much more over the weekend than normal. Sales through iTunes are rapidly getting stronger and stronger.”

I’m not surprised. Newsstand is a much more elegant way to consume news content on the iPad. By putting magazines in one place, it’s much easier to consume magazine content on the iPad. In addition, newsstand downloads magazines and newspapers in the background. After a new issue is released it automatically downloads to your iPad.

Most news apps still have a long way to go, but newsstand should help make the experience better for users. A better user experience should mean more sales.


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On Android finding its soul

Joshua Topolsky has a fantastic interview with Matias Duarte, Android’s head of user experience. Matias is trying to give Android soul:

“With Android, people were not responding emotionally, they weren’t forming emotional relationships with the product. They needed it, but they didn’t necessarily love it.”

Matias says that the studies showed that users felt empowered by their devices, but often found Android phones overly complex. That they needed to invest more time in learning the phones, more time in becoming an expert. The phones also made users feel more aware of their limitations — they knew there was more they could do with the device, but couldn’t figure out how to unlock that power.

It was a wakeup call at Google.

We want to create wonder. We wanted to simplify people’s lives. Right now, there’s a common trap that can happen when you load up too much power into a piece of software that’s not that intelligent.

The problem with for-profit education

Being a project that is centered around the intersection of technology and the liberal arts, naturally we have an interest with seeing new online tools emerge for education. We think their is a role — perhaps a very strong one — for online education. Jeremy is not only teaching his students about the Web and how it can further journalism, he is also using online tools to teach them.

But we support education, not the monstrosities that most for-profit educational systems have become:

Management handed down revamped telemarketing scripts designed to prey on poor and uneducated consumers, honing in on their past mistakes in life as a ploy to convince them that college would solve all their problems, according to conversations with more than a dozen current and former Education Management Corp. employees over the past two months.

“You’d probe to find a weakness,” said Brian Klein, a former admissions employee who worked for three years at Argosy University Online, one of four major colleges operated by EDMC. “You basically take all that failure and all those bad decisions, and you spin it around and put it right back in their face as guilt, to go to this shitty university and run up all of this debt.”

Just as the subprime mortgage bubble was giving way to a bust that would help trigger a devastating financial crisis, Goldman Sachs, a firm that had been at the center of Wall Street’s rampant mortgage speculation, found its way to a new area of explosive growth: In claiming what would eventually become a 41 percent stake in Education Management Corp., Goldman secured itself a means of tapping into the boom in for-profit higher education. The federal government was boosting aid to college students nationwide, just as a declining economy prompted millions of Americans to seek refuge in higher education, leading to dramatically expanding enrollments at many institutions.

This piece is a fascinating read, and shows The Huffington Post at its finest, doing real, important journalism. Journalism that many organizations have forgotten.

Hopefully the pitfalls of for-profit education won’t turn people away from good online tools that enhance learning.

The curse of knowledge

When I read this I couldn’t help but think about how technical people have trouble communicating technology to every day people:

In 1990, Elizabeth Newton did a fascinating psychology experiment: She paired participants into teams of two: one tapper and one listener. The tappers picked one of 25 well-known songs and would tap out the rhythm on a table. Their partner – the designated listener – was asked to guess the song. How do you think they did?

Not well. Of the 120 songs tapped out on the table, the listeners only guessed 3 of them correctly – a measly 2.5 percent. But get this: before the listeners gave their answer, the tappers were asked to predict how likely their partner was to get it right. Their guess? Tappers thought their partners would get the song 50 percent of the time. You know, only overconfident by a factor of 20. What made the tappers so far off?

They lost perspective because they were “cursed” with the additional knowledge of the song title.

It’s hard for knowledgable people — on any topic — to understand what it’s like to not have knowledge of that topic. So when we try to explain something that we know well, we often leave out key details because we assume their too obvious.

It’s important to understand how people not like you think.

Into the wild of local news non-profits and their quest for sustainability

The Knight Foundation has a great graphic to go with their new report on local news non-profits and business models:

Amazon first displaced book stores, now moving to displace publishers

The New York Times reports:

Amazon will publish 122 books this fall in an array of genres, in both physical and e-book form. It is a striking acceleration of the retailer’s fledging publishing program that will place Amazon squarely in competition with the New York houses that are also its most prominent suppliers.

Several large publishers declined to speak on the record about Amazon’s efforts. “Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do,” said Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, who is known for speaking his mind.

My gut says this will be good for authors and readers but not for the publishing industry.