Format as brand

Publishing Perspectives highlights work that LibreDigital is doing to support newspaper and magazine content on Nook, the recently announced Barnes and Noble reading device. Adobe is doing the same work for book content.

Unfortunately, LibreDigital and Adobe are stuck with customers who want mobile and online content to look, feel and work the same as it does in print. As Bob Carlton, vice president of marketing for LibreDigital, notes “… if you’re the New York Times or Esquire or Pearson, the page layout is the brand.”

Certainly it is possible to preserve the look and feel of the New York Times (or a Harry Potter book) in digital format, and I don’t blame LibreDigital for doing what their customers want. But the container, which is all the page layout represents, is hardly the brand.

A simple example: Craigslist. What could be uglier? When building the site, Craig Newmark could have said, “People are used to searching through one-inch-square boxes with really small type. Let’s just put that online and maybe let them magnify it a bit. But don’t change the fonts.” Of course, he went another way, and in a less appealing development, so did newspapers.

We’ve written before about the dangers of trying to control both appearance and use of content; those rules very much apply here. Content providers need to look at their business from the consumer’s perspective.

Readers want to address a need or solve a problem, not replicate the reading experience of a broadsheet, or an 8-3/8 x 10-7/8 magazine or a 6 x 9 book. New formats provide new opportunities, and defining the brand in terms of what worked in print certainly leaves the door wide open for disruption.

Brian O'Leary

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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