Apps are Wrong for Publishing

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This post from Futurebook talks about how apps (i.e. for iPhone or Android) won’t yet generate enough money for publishing companies (and maybe that’s a good thing):

Let’s look at numbers. Imagine you’re a publishing house releasing a celebrity-driven app. You rack up 50,000 units of App Store goodness. At a fiver per, you expect profit. But the developers charged 40k of your local currency, the celeb wanted an advance plus a fee for their video production company. Marketing took a chunk. Apple ate 30%. Tack on taxes, internal resources and the groan of bricks and mortar and a 5% profit margin looks ambitious.

…and concludes “apps will feed your family, not the corporate bottom line.” Meanwhile, Nicholas Calloway, who “first published Madonna’s book Sex, then convinced her to write children’s books” (oy) is dumping print for apps:

Sitting in his chic offices on Manhattan’s cobble-stoned South Street Seaport, the 57-year old Harvard graduate, photographer, father of two and daily Anusara yoga practitioner bristles with excitement as he flips open the worn black cover of his iPad. ”This is revolutionary,” he says, stroking his finger at the iPad’s glass surface and prodding to open an app he has developed. “This is the Looking Glass. This is Alice in Wonderland. We are at the beginning of an entirely new medium.”

I think both these are off-base. Apps can be tremendously satisfying, but the best stories are still told with plain old words and pictures. Great things are possible with just those. If you want to get ultra fancy maybe sounds, music, and movies, but you don’t need to build an app for that. Spending tons of money on app development won’t substitute for a good story any more than it will for a bad Hollywood film… and I know how that movie ends already.

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