Just got back from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Normally, I’d say that the CES event is a bit far afield for Folio: Magazine, what with all the booths offering iPod aftermarket products and so on.
But Aspire Media’s Clay Hall, a magazine-industry CEO with vision, convened a group of enthusiast and b-to-b publishers to discuss exactly what the CES represents for our future as print publishers.
I have to tell you: The show itself was totally overwhelming. Both of two convention centers were packed with exhibits. It’s really several shows in one. Everything from geeky computer technology to plastic gadgets to camera gear was represented. There were toys, and ubiquitous cell-phone items. They offered TV on cell phones, TV on computers. Computers on cell phones. And on and on.
Vegas was, of course, Vegas. I like the place and I don’t even gamble.
But the real value was a rich two days of discussions of the future of magazine publishing in the face of the electronic tide. The participants were fabulous, starting with Ken Bronfin, president of Hearst Interactive Media. Ken offered an eye-opening overview of electronic paper, which Hearst has invested in heavily and which is already gaining commercial traction in books and newspapers. For Bronfin, it’s only a matter of a couple of years before e-paper is a significant force in magazines. Compare it to digital music—and how it revolutionized the music industry, he says.
Other participants were Terry Snow, CEO of World Publications, Michela O’Connor Abrams, president and publisher of Dwell, Mark Edmiston, Managing Director of AdMedia Partners, Don Nicholas, Managing Director of The Mequoda Group, Don Peschke, CEO of August Home Publishing, Dan Wiesner, CEO of Wiesner Publishing and Steve Lalibeerte, president of iProduction, a St. Paul, Minnesota, e-publishing solutions provider.
In an all-star cast, Peschke stood out. August Home Publishing, a largely reader-driven company, stands out for its success in generating reader revenue, for brand extensions, for moving into e-media and for how Peschke, who started the Des Moines, Iowa-based company in 1978, approaches management and leadership. “The role of a manager is not to supervise other people,” Peschke says on the company’s Web site. “It’s to help other people, including our customers, be successful.”
Look for more from Peschke and the rest of the participants in a special roundtable in the March issue of Folio:.