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OJR: Apps v eBooks – are we missing paid content opportunity?

September 14th, 2011Posted by in Editors' pick, Mobile, Online Journalism

In an interesting post on the Online Journalism Review website Robert Niles weighs up the opportunities for publishers investing in apps versus eBooks. In his post Niles says he would be surprised to find a newsroom spending “even half of what its devoting to app development on eBooks”.

But with a quick look at the pricing of the top paid apps compared to eBooks, he says it is about time news organisations take “a serious look” at the eBook market.

There have been some recent examples of news outlets entering the eBook market and ultimately enhancing the shelf-life of news content as a result. Last month the Guardian launched its pwm new series of eBooks called Guardian Shorts, which started with Phone Hacking: How the Guardian broke the story.

According to Niles within the News category of the app store, the most expensive paid app in the top 20 was Instapaper at $4.99, compared to the Politics & Current Events category in iBooks, where he recorded that 19 out of the top 20 sell for at least $4.99.

Clearly, the public is willing to – and does – pay more for content in eBooks than it does in apps. That fact should encourage any serious news business to take a serious look at eBooks. But what about volume? That’s where I couldn’t find reliable data comparing sales in the app store versus sales of eBooks. But it’s clear from the pricing that a news organisation would need to sell many times more apps than eBooks for apps to have better sales revenue, given the higher price points routinely supported in eBook stores.

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