Time Warner botches new magazine, but 'mine' may be the future

Time Warner Inc. (TWX), the world's largest media company (and corporate parent of this blog), screwed up an an experiment to create more personalized magazines.

According to USA Today, "Time Inc.'s experimental made-to-order magazine, 'mine', shipped out this week, but many subscribers got a version that looked like it belonged to someone else." Many readers to the free publication did not get the content they picked. The company blamed a "computer error" and promised readers and extra issue.

Time Warner, whose titles include Time and People, deserves credit for trying something -- anything -- to try to revive its magazine business. Like newspapers, magazines are suffering from declining readership and many now produce issues that are skinnier than a supermodel. The problem of figuring out how to get people to pay for content is too complicated to get into here.

But the experiment raises the question of what the magazine of the future will look like. Does it make sense for both Time magazine and Sports Illustrated to cover the Super Bowl? Can one publication share content with another. Moreover, why does there need be separate publications covering sports and entertainment? Shouldn't people be able to get their content how they want when they want it?

"Mine" may be a problem for now, but I suspect it's a hint of things to come.
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