Today’s Speaking of Wealth Show sees Jason Hartman talk to the Chief Innovation Officer of PressReader, Alex Gruntsev. In a world where print media is rising and falling, and technology is constantly bettering itself, PressReader is the service that answers all of your wishes. Alex discusses what his company can offer to consumers world-wide, and also gives his opinion on the future of publishing and marketing industries.

 

Key Takeaways
01.26 – Alex Gruntsev talks about the idea behind PressReader, a unique reading experience.
02.53 – The days of managing individual newspaper and magazine subscriptions are coming to an end.
07.27 – English language publications make up just a fraction of PressReader’s available stock, so take the chance to brush up on a foreign language too!
08.03 – The publishing industry is in a massive state of change, and now you no longer have to settle on just one publication. Feel free to pick and choose as much as you want.
11.17 – With music and film industries going digital, maybe it’s time print followed suit?
15.08 – Innovations in one area open up so many other opportunities for innovation in related markets and industries.
19.45 – To find out more and sign up, head to www.PressReader.com

 

Tweetables
The shelf-life of a newspaper is so short. With only 6-8 hours, you’ve got to get it right.
The likes of Netflix, Spotify and iTunes are all about convenience for the consumer, and it works!
The ultimate publishing question rears its head again: is print dead?

 

Transcript

Introduction:
This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company. For more information and links to all our great podcasts, visit www.HartmanMedia.com

Speakers, publishers, consultants, coaches and info-marketers, unite. The Speaking of Wealth Show is your roadmap to success and significance. Learn the latest tools, technologies and tactics to get more bookings, sell more products and attract more clients. If you’re looking to increase your direct response sales, create a big-time personal brand and become the go-to guru, the Speaking of Wealth Show is for you. Here’s your host, Jason Hartman.

Jason Hartman:
It’s my pleasure to welcome Alex Gruntsev to the show. He is Chief Innovation Officer and Executive VP of PressReader, and this is a very unique business model for news and information, and I just want to dive into it more. We’ll talk about the consumer and the publisher side of this, which is pretty interesting. Alex, welcome, how are you?

Alex Gruntsev:
Thank you Jason, I am well, and thanks for having me on the show.

Jason:
The pleasure is mine. Give our listeners a sense of geography; where are you located?

Alex:
Vancouver, on the West Coast.

Jason:
Beautiful place. Vancouver, British Columbia, or Washington?

Alex:
Vancouver, British Columbia.

Jason:
It’s a gorgeous city, gorgeous city. Well good, so tell us about PressReader; what exactly is it?

Alex:
PressReader offers an all-you-can-read service that includes thousands of newspapers and magazines. To be precise, 2500 newspapers from all over the world and over 1,000 magazines that are available for a very low monthly fee of $29.95, and that allows full access to the entire collection.

Jason:
OKay, good. So $19.95 per month, you say?

Alex:
$29.95.

Jason:
Oh, $29.95 per month, okay. So any newspaper? Are these normally subscription newspapers, and are they just newspapers?

Alex:
Well, as you know, with many papers now available, subscription to an individual title may easily cost anywhere from $15 to $20 a month, and many premium titles paid offerings: The Washington Post, Globe and Mail, The Daily Mail from the UK, The Australian, and the list goes on. All of them can now just be accessed through PressReader, and in this case, you’re not limiting yourself to any particular title, but you’re very flexible in choosing whatever title you want to read and you can switch from one title to another at any time.

Jason:
Good stuff. And so how many titles are available?

Alex:
Right now it’s 2500 newspapers and over 1,000 magazines. Among the magazines, there are a lot of very famous brands like GQ, Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan and many others.

Jason:
Do you get the entire magazine and the entire newspaper?

Alex:
Yes, this is exactly how it works. We, as a company, will sign an agreement with each publisher and as a result, we’re getting to feed the same time it goes to the printing press. In many cases, you would be able to read European newspapers well before..

Jason:
The Europeans do! That’s great, that’s really cool. Can you read this without an Internet connection? Say you’re on the plane or you’re in a developing country where you don’t have easy Internet? Or does it require a connection?

Alex:
Well, it certainly requires a connection for you to pick and choose the title that you want to access, but then if you’re using an iPad or another Android tablet or Windows tablet, or a Blackberry phone etc. you can download the full edition of the newspaper onto your phone directly so that you can later access it. For example, if you’re travelling or you’re in the air, now you have something very interesting to read and to have some meaningful time.

Jason:
Good reviews in the App Store, by the way – I’m talking about for iPhone, I know you have Android apps too. This is just a great model. Why hasn’t someone else done this? I love it! It’s really great to have access to this whole.. It’s like walking into the newsstand and you can just have everything with you all the time, whereas managing all these individual subscriptions is really a hassle.
I’d say Amazon probably makes it the easiest, or iBookstore, Apple’s version, but this is even easier than both of those because you don’t have to do individual subscriptions!

Alex:
Indeed, this is exactly what we’re working on, and that’s exactly why we’ve spent so much effort on this. There are some attempts to do similar services, but it’s an extremely difficult operation. You might find some companies that would do aggregation of magazines and the reason for this is that magazines generally have a longer shelf-life and you have a little bit more flexibility in the time of processing a title.
If you’re dealing with newspaper content, it is good for maybe 6-8 hours, but you should be able to process the entire edition of, let’s say, the Washington Post, in merely 20 minutes, and make it available immediately throughout the world through all the apps that we support and provide content on so that people will enjoy it for the longest period of time. To process it in such a short cycle is a very challenging task from a technological point of view.

Jason:
I would assume that the money is pretty difficult, too, because I assume that the publishers are not giving you this content for free to re-sell, you have to pay them, right? Normally they’d have a subscription.

Alex:
Absolutely. The amount of money the publishers will receive depends greatly on how much time readers will spend with that particular content.

Jason:
Right, so you’re actually monitoring it at the granular level. I’m looking at the app right now, and if I take a look at Deal magazine and I spend 5 minutes there, and then I take a look at Wish magazine, or GQ as you’ve got some big titles here for sure. That’s how you’re going to pay the publisher?

Alex:
Well, we’re dealing with publishers throughout the world so obviously the terms are quite different, and everything is different, but the general idea is that we go and charge customers on the monthly basis. In addition to customers, we have a lot of businesses that actually sponsor access to the service on their premises – a lot of them are actually offering public access to this service; we’ll talk about it in a minute. After that, basically the substantial portion of that revenue will be distributed to publishers. That revenue that the particular publisher will receive greatly depends on how famous their content is, how easily discoverable they are in the publications catalog, and how well their readers are informed about the availability.

Jason:
Now I cleaned up my feed and I wish I would have had it this way before I just made that last statement because now I’ve got all English titles. Before I was looking through every country, which is just really amazing. If you want to brush up on another language that you’re learning, it’s nice to have all these foreign publications too, because that’s very helpful for immersion learning.
It’s really a neat, neat idea. How can publishers use this as well? What I’m really asking there is for you to speak to, if it’s even applicable, to small publishers that don’t have the New York Times or big publications? Can small publishers get in on this too?

Alex:
Certainly, smaller and medium-sized publishers can benefit from this tremendously. Primarily, because the development budgets that are typically a little more available with the bigger publishers – they can have their own development team that will build their own apps and will be able to upgrade the apps in time for iOS releasing and then you get another version of their software. But even for bigger publishers, it does make sense because as you know, the industry is going through some very interesting times and re-imagining itself and understanding that certain paradigms that used to work well no longer necessarily work as well.

For example, previously bigger newspapers would be almost an exclusive position in their respective market. But now with the Internet and multiple sources competing for the attention of customers, that becomes increasingly difficult. At the same time, subscribers or users used to be happy with just getting one particular source and having all the news coming from one particular source. That’s no longer the case. All people now want to have multiple points of view, they want to see the best coverage and if, say, the best sports section runs in the New York Post, they want that section from the New York Post, while for international coverage, they may go elsewhere.

Jason:
That’s great, so they can sort of piece together their own news. It’s really nice, too, because it’s in the format – it looks just like the publication. Is that true across the board? It’s looking like that to me so far.

Alex:
Indeed it is. We offer basically both the text version of the publication as well as full graphics. You can enjoy the magazine in its full glory, and you can see the newspaper in exactly the same way it was published on the newsstand, so that includes all the graphics, all the advertising that’s there, and you can enjoy all the design features which are present in the issue.

Jason:
That’s great. And it looks like without being a member you can download individual content, so you can just grab one magazine and pay for it, or not pay for it – I just downloaded a free one. I guess there’s not a charge for all of them! And they can be auto-delivered. Really, this is long overdue, this is great. How long have you been in business?

Alex:
Well, the company itself has been in the business for quite a while. We’re almost 15 years in business, but for the digital part of the business, that’s been relatively new. The entire business model that has been offered to the marketing and publishing world is relatively new – we’re talking maybe 5-6 years.

Jason:
Great, fantastic. Where are you going with this? Where do you see the future of this type of news and news in general?

Alex:
Well, we believe that the market of publishing is overdue for quite a substantial change in the business model. It’s relatively easy now to go into Netflix, to Spotify or iTunes, for that matter, and they’ve changed the business model of the distribution of music and video. They brought convenience to the consumer, and they brought it at the right price.

Now, we’ve seen like Blockbuster and the business of renting movies, maybe 5 years ago, if I were to tell you I was renting a movie, that would be a reasonable proposition. Today, many people wouldn’t even know what we were talking about.

Jason:
Oddly though, we have Redbox, and I’ve never really understood why people use it, but people do! I don’t know, it’s just kind of interesting. I don’t know if you have that in Canada, maybe you don’t.

Alex:
No, Redbox is quite popular, but then again, it’s a policy of the company that they don’t necessarily make digital access available for some time. It’s still giving the window of business opportunity to rentals, but they definitely have to be done on an entirely new level with an entirely different cost structure.

Jason:
Really interesting stuff. Are newspapers dead? Are magazines dead? Are they just dying a slow death? What’s the status of print? It seems like it’s still here.

Alex:
Oh Jason, just like your question – we have to split it in two parts. One is when we’re talking about the print as a format of delivery of newspaper content. It may not necessarily be dead – I’m sure there is quite a lot of customers that still want to get it in the format they used to have before, but then again, that is definitely turning into a niche product, like vinyl records and stuff. There is definitely a market for it, but it’s no longer a mass product as it used to be.

The second part, obviously, is about the content itself. We clearly see the need for the long form of journalism, we see the need for quality reporting, we see the need for somebody to do the research and check facts and try to make sense of what’s going on. Whether it’s the result of that work that’s being delivered on paper, digitally behind a paywall, or maybe it’s through some other convenient way that makes all sorts available in one place, in a very similar and fluid interface and at a reasonable price – well, we’ll see.

Jason:
I really like that you even have The Washington Post. You’ve got major publications; you can just read The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News – anything you want – USA Today, of course. You know, there was a lot of news about Jeff Bezos buying The Washington Post, I guess it was last year, right? And he was really modernizing it with all of his tremendous knowledge and skill that he’s implemented at Amazon. Do you have any thoughts about that as to what that means to the industry?

Alex:
Well, we still haven’t seen the results of that thinking, so Jeff Bezos is obviously a very interesting person that came and brought a lot of business models to the market that have not existed before, so I’m waiting for interesting innovation on that front as much as you are.

Jason:
Very interesting. What does this mean to advertisers? When it’s in digital format, you have the opportunity to let someone just click on an ad and buy a jacket that they see in the ad in GQ. Is there another big innovation coming to advertising with this kind of thing?

Alex:
Well oddly enough, but according to statistics, about 30% of people buy magazines actually because of the advertising. On the Internet, we’ve kind of got used to struggling with annoying ads, but in the printed word, it’s actually been quite the opposite story. While advertising and interactive advertising and large-scale advertising are exciting topics, what we are seeing now is that a lot of companies and organizations are willing to sponsor access to PressReader’s service.

We’ve been working with libraries for quite some time, but what is typical for libraries is usually unheard of in many other segments. About a year ago, we started to offer what’s called HotSpot, and a HotSpot is basically a WiFi area where PressReader is being sponsored, let’s say by a hotel. Imagine you’re walking into ..

Jason:
I know where you’re going, this is good.

Alex:
In the hotel, and suddenly PressReader tells you ‘In this area, it’s free’. You can enjoy and browse it because it’s been sponsored by Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton, or Shangri-La, or many other hotels. We just started to offer HotSpots about a year ago.

Jason:
That would seem really good for coffee shops, obviously – you’ve got your device with you, and here’s the newspaper and the coffee shops doesn’t have to keep cleaning up and throwing newspapers away that make a mess! It would seem kind of logical for them too, huh?

Alex:
Newspapers and coffee go together naturally and I definitely would like to see that in that segment as well. You know, in hospitality, they’ve been delivering newspapers to your room for as long as we can remember hospitality.

Jason:
Yeah, Marriott was the first one that really started keeping track of which one you liked to read, I remember, and now it’s just a heck of a lot easier, isn’t it?

Alex:
It is. With PressReader it’s much easier, plus you no longer have all the garbage and the recycling to do. It’s much easier to handle, too. Many customers are actually frustrated these days by printed papers delivered to their room because they don’t really use that product at home. They have a sense of guilt from just throwing it away without opening it, but they really have no reason to open it. PressReader solves that fundamental problem – the users that still enjoy newspapers are getting phenomenal variety, and now it’s not just the local paper which you probably haven’t been reading anyway, before arriving to the city. Now you have all the magazines and everything available.

Jason:
Very good stuff. What about richer media? Video and things like that. Is that just another business? I’m kind of curious about that.

Alex:
Well there is clearly a fine balance here. On the one hand, having video content and additional photographs and maybe even additional content that didn’t make it to the printed edition are of great importance to the reader, and especially for someone who wants to dig a little bit deeper into particular topics, but at the same time, for the past few years, publishers have been having all kinds of experiments with rich media and creating applications and making sure their scientific charts are so well illustrated with dynamic charts. At the same time as it can be good, it can be extremely overwhelming as well.

Finding the right balance so that it will combine predictability, simplicity of the interface and the overall complexity of the thing should reflect the need for it. We’ll see if they’ll continue the experimentation in that field.

Jason:
Very interesting. Good stuff. Well, Alex, thank you for joining us and telling us about PressReader. The website is www.PressReader.com, and apps are available in all the usual app stores. I appreciate having you on the show, this is a great service and I hope to see it expand a lot and I hope to get my favorite magazines on there and so forth. It’s really a good idea. It’s an idea whose time has come.

Alex:
Jason, thank you for your insightful questions. It’s been a pleasure.

Outro
This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.HartmanMedia.com, or email media@hartmanmedia.com
Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own, and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network Inc. exclusively.