All the talk this week about Apple’s new tablet has me picking up my Amazon Kindle and hugging it. After all, it’s real, it’s here, and it didn’t cost $1,000.
I really love my Kindle, but the metrics side of me cringes every time I read an article from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times or New Yorker subscriptions that appear silently – magically – every day or every week and are always at my fingertips.
News orgs complain about the pennies they get from each Kindle sub, but that’s the least of their problems in the long run. The bigger problem is that they can’t track how many subscribers click on an issue, when they do it and what stories they read, if at all.
This is just like the good old days! A newspaper pumps out a seven-day home-delivered product and collects a few subscriber dollars so it can say it has a paying audience. It then sells some ads based on a mass media theory (otherwise known as “spray and pray”). In other words, it has no idea of what works for subscribers.
Web sites give news orgs detailed information about what engages audiences. The info is sometimes painful (“What? No one’s reading my story?”), but it’s essential for survival today.
For a reader, Kindles and tablets are great. What’s great for readers should be great for news orgs, too, but only if they know why.