updated 10:40 pm EDT, Thu April 26, 2012
Economist forecasts wholesale move to digital
Most print publishing will be gone within the next 25 years, The Economist CEO Andrew Rashbass predicted in a presentation on Thursday. Paper magazines were at new highs, and his publication was hoping to keep demand hihg, but he told paidContent and others at Madrid's Paley Center international council that he was realistic about print going away. He was enthusiastic about tablet reading, which gave the company a possible avenue for a business model after years of uncertainty over a pure web version.
It's not fashionable to say it, but I think, frankly, it will be all digital," Rathbass said. "I don't know when that will be exactly, but the idea that mass printing of paper will be around in 25 years is odd."
However, he saw direct competition from news curation apps like Flipboard. These apps gave someone else revenue that ought to belong to the original publication, Rashbass said. The issue wasn't serious, but Rashbass wouldn't have volunteered to optimize The Economist for Flipboard even if he had been asked.
Unlike with competitors such as the Financial Times, Rashbass wasn't upset about Apple's 30 percent cut on iPad magazines sold through the App Store. Third-party distribution costs were a regular part of the industry, he said.