July 2, 2014 Last Updated 8:05 am

Time to cast some doubt on some of the recent sales research; Zinio issues app update to continue improvements to library

Morning Brief: The U.S. is out of the World Cup, the Fourth of July is approaching, but we still have to go to work, yuck!

The recent batch of reports on book publishing and the magazine industry has some dire sales numbers, yet as someone who has seen the decline first-hand for the past decade, I can not back up some of the findings. For instance, the recent BookStats reports seems to show a slowing (or even an end) to the growth of eBook sales. Yet the most industry reporters ignored the fine print that said that the report can not track some sales occurring due to the declining use of ISBN numbers.

Booksales-estimatesBook and magazine sales will always fluctuate, but to say that people are now less interested in reading the platforms is just wrong – I’ve seen no evidence of that at all. Surveys continue to show that readers, well, read – and they continue to say they enjoy reading (not counting 8th graders forced to read someone’s idea of a classic novel over the summer).

So why the doom and gloom? First, let’s not forget that we are still in bad economic times. Unless you are among the 1 percent times have not improved and discretionary incomes remain depressed (and this may only get worse as political parties around the world committed to increasing the wealth of the rich appear in ascendancy). Also, we are in a period of massive transition from print to digital. I personally believe we are still at the beginning of the process, not the end. When I read LinkedIn discussions where print publishers continue to push the superiority of PDF replicas I know we are still at the beginning of the evolution (these commenters never explain how they will continue to produce a replica once they have shuttered their print product).

Also, tracking sales has become more complicated, vastly more complicated. For instance, there are now dozens of digital newsstands and book stores that are not part of the same reporting system traditional reporting companies have tracked. On top of this, many digital-only publishers are not using the traditional auditing and tracking companies legacy publishers have used and are therefore missing from many research reports. Just look at the reports of magazine launches and square that report with what you see in the Apple Newsstand.

There is every reason to worry about the fate of publishing companies, but let’s not confuse that with consumer behavior. People still read, it’s up to us publishers to figure out what they want to read and in what formats and what devices they want to use when they read. If it means coming up with new platforms, then that is what we will have to do. Forcing a reader to continue to buy our legacy products, at ever decreasing physical newsstands, is not a solution to declining sales.

Zinio-iPhone5-lgThe digital newsstand company Zinio last night released an update to its iOS app, bringing the app up to version 2.7. The app, called Zinio – 5,000+ Digital Magazines, continues to work to improve magazine searching, bringing in a new search bar and what it describes as easier-to-read filters.

This is the third update in a row that mentions an improved library for the app, one of the areas where users have found the most reasons to complain about the app. Most recent reviews, however, appear to be positive.

Among other app updates seen today was the update for NYT Now, the relatively news mobile app from The New York Times which offers a curated, lower priced news experience. There update adds the ability to save articles from the Our Picks section and add them into the reading list. There are also bug fixes included in the update.

The app has gotten very good reviews from readers who are finding the app helpful in following important news on their mobile devices. The one complaint that I found interesting is that the NYT team has a tendency to over use push notifications. I find this to be a valid complaint as I often, after putting down my device, come back to it to find numerous notifications from the NYT, few of which really are useful.

Twitter has also issued an update for its Vine app. The app now will give the user feedback concerning the number of times their loops have been viewed. Now, if only Twitter would get rid of that annoying screenshot of the girl with her tongue hanging out (the dog screenshot can stay, though).

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