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MacUser’s Adam Banks on why the iPad will not save the publishing industry

Posted: March 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm No Comments »

Adam Banks is the Editor in Chief of MacUser Magazine and Launch Editor of PC Gear magazine. Adam is also currently working a freelance journalist and writes his own blog called ADAMBANKS.COM.  He edits and redesigns various newsstand magazines, creates customer and internal magazines for corporate clients and also works on copy and design for websites and other digital media. Banks primarily focuses on technology, which includes digital graphic design, usability and social and political issues surrounding computers and the internet.

Cision: A recent article by Smoking Apples stated that “The iPad is going to save the publishing industry”. Do you agree/disagree? Why?

Adam: I don’t think any one technology will save or kill the publishing industry. Many publishers, including Dennis, are now producing magazines specifically for the iPad, and News Corp has invested over $30m launching a digital newspaper on it, so clearly we believe there are readers and revenue there. At MacUser, we partner with Pixel Mags and Zinio, which convert print publications into digital editions, and we’re attracting a lot of new readers through those services. Some of our existing readers also find it useful to have the magazine on screen. On the other hand, I think print is still the best way ever invented to deliver content. We can do things in a magazine feature or tutorial over several double-page spreads that just wouldn’t work so well on the iPad, or on a website, or in any digital format that exists now. We know each copy of MacUser is often passed around to several readers, which is fiddly to do with digital editions. And we haven’t quite figured out how to make an iPad smell of fresh ink when you open an app for the first time. So we’re very interested in the iPad – we read magazines on it ourselves! – but it’s an addition, not a replacement.

Many journalists continue to be concerned by the effects of cross-media integration on their working practices. How do you experience this transformation?

Within Dennis Publishing, we produce content in all media, and it’s more a cause of excitement than concern. That’s probably something to do with the company’s background in computing and technology. We’ve always been early adopters of new tools; we pioneered desktop publishing and digital prepress, and 15 years ago we were producing content on CD-ROM. At MacUser we still see writing, photography and illustration as our core content, but we’re constantly looking at other media, and if we find a good use for them, we have the facilities and expertise to exploit them.

Can journalists use 3D technology in their work?

Again, it depends on what suits your content and serves your readers. We’re not into doing stuff just because it’s there. But yes, interactive 3D has great potential on the web and in digital editions, and many of our journalists would be quite happy to produce that kind of content.

What do you predict to be the ‘must have’ gadget in 2011? What gadgets do you use in your work?

The iPad will continue to be the ‘must have’ gadget, boosted by the launch of a new model in the very near future. I have an iPad instead of a laptop now, and my iPhone 4 is essential because it goes everywhere and gives me full access to email and the web. I also use its camera more and more; the opening spread of our latest issue has a full-page photo I took in San Francisco while we were reporting from there in January.

Will you be attending any events in 2011? If so, which ones and why?

I’ve just written a piece on how important events are for getting people together face to face. The ones I’m probably keenest to make time for are Publishing Expo (http://www.publishing-expo.co.uk/) at Earls Court 2 on 1-2 March, because there’s always something new to learn in our amazing industry; Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June, because it’s where the real news often happens in our market; and our own tech show, LITS (http://www.litshow.co.uk/), at ExCel in October.

What is going to be bigger in 2011: Mobile Journalism or Social Journalism?

If you define mobile journalism as writing from where the news is, that’s always been important, although most of what we report on in the tech industry has little to do with geography. It can also mean not being tied to an office, and MacUser is now run editorially as a virtual team. We work remotely from all over the country, as well as on the road. The ability to do that is very big to us. As for social journalism, we love the way social networks help us talk to our readers and the industry we report on, but they don’t replace journalism. We’re staunch defenders of the need for dedicated professionals to find, interpret and present information meaningfully, not just curate user-generated content. But we’re addicted to Twitter, not only because news travels so fast there but because of the purely social benefit of encountering people with similar interests. So both of those things are big, as means to an end.

What are your tips for PR agencies looking to contacting you?

Send us an email with a clear subject line and all the key information in the message, not an attachment. Supply a link to high-res photos, and have review samples ready to go. And get our names right – that’s what directories are for :)

Also check out Cision’s Tech Week!

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