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Rolling Stone publisher no fan of digital magazine subscriptions for iPad, tablets

May 31, 2011 |  2:25 pm

Wenner Rolling Stone Publisher Jann Wenner: Gung-ho for print magazines. Not so much for publications on Apple’s iPad.

His company, Wenner Media, publishes Rolling Stone, Us Weekly and Men’s Journal. Last year he organized an ad campaign touting the “power of print.”

The concept of digital magazines on tablet devices will take decades --  “maybe two generations” -- to really take off, he told Advertising Age in a very opinionated interview aboard his private jet.

Other publishers who are rushing to offer subscriptions to their magazines via iPad are making “a mistake,” he said. For good measure, he added that the move was “crazy” and “sheer insanity and insecurity and fear.”

“They’re prematurely rushing and showing little confidence and faith in what they’ve really got, their real asset, which is the magazine itself, which is still a great commodity,” he said. The tablet is "a small additive; it’s not the new business.”

Publishers, who will sell only several thousand copies through tablets, will also get less money from advertisers, Wenner predicted. Converting and programming the publication to fit the devices will be expensive.

It’s also usually more difficult for readers to view magazines on tablets than in page form, Wenner said. 

He compared magazine publishing to the music industry. Compact discs are still a popular delivery system, he said, even when competing against digital options such as iTunes.

Wenner said he planned to offer Rolling Stone to paid subscribers free on the Web or the iPad.

“As long as people want the magazine product we'll deliver it,” he said. “I think that's going to be for a long time to come. People cherish it. There's something to hold on to.”

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Jann Wenner. Credit: Seth Wenig / Associated Press

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