If the title “eBook Summit” conjures up a vision of publishing industry executives, agents and writers, well, you’re not that far off. But we were also not surprised to see that there is a lot that journalists and news organizations can take away from the panels at today’s mediabistro.com eBook Summit — and not just those journalists who have written books or hope to someday. In fact, we believe e-readers will have a huge impact on the print media world — not just the publishing world — in the New Year.
We sat in on a panel this morning that featured Jennifer Stenger, who oversees licensing and business development for mobile markets for the Associated Press. She spoke about the AP’s expansion into providing its content on mobile devices and e-readers. This is a shift for the AP, she said, because the organization has traditionally just provided news content to other news organizations who then repackage it and distribute it to readers or viewers. Now, the AP can tap these users directly, so it is learning what information people want and how they want to get it. “It gives us something we’ve never had before, which is a direct connection to users,” she said.
Also surprising to the AP, she said, was that readers were willing to pay for content on their e-readers. Where traditionally information on the Internet has been given away for free, making online readers less inclined to pay for it, e-reader users were willing to shill out to get information specially curated for them.
“It was kind of a surprise to us that they wanted to charge [for e-reader content], because news on the Web is free and no one wants to pay for the news anymore,” Stenger said. “And not only did they want to charge, they wanted to charge per category of news. We thought this would never work, no one would ever want to pay. But on the contrary, people are willing to pay for what they want, and most of what they are paying for is convenience.”