AMCBOCA RATON, Florida—Speed kills … if you don’t have it. That was the message of a panel—“How Publishing Companies Position Themselves for
Growth”—at the American Magazine Conference here Monday.

Magazine readers are well ahead of
publishers in adapting to the Web, and magazines are playing catch-up, the panelists said.

“We were talking about the Web in 1994 and 1995,” said
Bonnier chairman Jonas Bonnier. “And we kept talking about it [but] we missed

“The Web is not new for the consumer,” said Wendy
Harris Millard, president, media, of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. “The consumer
is way ahead of us.”

The good news, Bonnier said, is that the Web market is
“unsophisticated, and it’s up to us to professionalize it.” Magazines, he said,
are well-positioned for growth online because magazines know how to build
brands better than online start-ups.

Brands, though, are not enough, said Philippe Guelton,
EVP/COO at Hachette. “We get complacent,” Guelton said. “Creating a magazine Web
site is not enough—we need deep content that consumers are used to.”

But the rapid growth of online puts print brands in the
precarious position of selling magazines to users who are used to getting
content online for free, Millard said. “I think we have undervalued print for a
long time,” Millard said. “And we’re really going to pay the price now.”

Bonnier, whose magazines carry a $10 cover price in
Europe, said it’s “depressing” to produce a magazine and “hand it out” in the

Added Millard: “The notion of trying to charge more for
magazines … it’s sad.”