iTunes fertile new ground: PDFcasting

iTunes fertile new ground: PDFcasting

Summary: iTunes is the master of its domain when it comes to digital music distribution and Apple is even breaking into online iPhone book? of podcasts, music videos, TV show and movies. But there's a virtually untapped new market on the horizon for Apple's venerable music distribution platform: magazines and books.

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TOPICS: Apple
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iTunes is the master of its domain when it comes to digital music distribution and Apple is even breaking into online iPhone book?distribution of podcasts, music videos, TV show and movies. But there's a virtually untapped new market on the horizon for Apple's venerable music distribution platform: magazines and books.

Apple has the potential to shake up the printed magazine and book market just like they did with music and now television and movies. It's good news for trees but bad news for some ivory tower-type fat cat print executives.

It works like this: Apple could begin distributing textual content via iTunes in PDF format. The documents could easily be read as text or even spoken to you via Apple's text-to-speech technology. Make magazine has an excellent article on the PDFcasting:

There are a small but growing number of PDFs appearing in iTunes, users can subscribe to podcasts to automatically receive audio and video - and recently - PDFs. At MAKE & CRAFT we have experimented with this from the start - we have also cataloged all the podcasts that send out PDFs we could find here. Eventually I think phones (including the iPhone) will be able to read PDFs via this method, perhaps a future iPod making it possible to easily distribute ebooks to these devices.

How is that bad for traditional magazine publishers, you ask? Granted, they'll still make money by syndicating their content through another distribution channel, arguably at an even higher profit margin because digital is much cheaper than trees, ink and trucks. But if Apple establishes themselves as the leading online distributor of (previously) printed content, then publishers would have to negotiate with Apple who would have all the bargaining power and the ability can set prices appropriately.

Did you know that Apple commands a whopping 55 percent cut for items distributed through their retail stores? 

All Apple needs to do is to release a really slick magazine and book reading interface for iTunes and they have the potential to take away as much as 25 percent of magazine sales in less than five years. Not to mention that the iPhone would make a perfect platform for a full-screen "reader" interface, wouldn't it?

UPDATE: More coverage of PDFcasting can be found on Frank Barnako's Marketwatch blog Barnaby James' Adobe blog

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Topic: Apple

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4 comments
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  • good idea

    Not original but good
    Reverend MacFellow
    • Nope, not original

      Makes so much sense -- I've always wondered why people think of enclosures to feeds as necessarily audio and video. Hopefully publishers will realize that iTunes doesn't have to control this, that they can do it on their own with existing feeds.
      amyloo
      • One stop shopping....?

        I would much rather not spend a lot of time looking and searching and with
        Globalization of everything including entertainment I would hope to get the
        advantage of one stop shopping to simplify my needs. I would hope that there
        might be a "Middle Man" that could empower me to find what interrests me,
        experiment with options I'm not aware of but with said experimenting find that I
        do in fact enjoy in other wordes pick and choose to my hearts content and not
        have to sign up with cable providers to get what they decide I want or better put
        what their advertisers decide I should watch and when.

        Pagan jim
        Laff
  • Makes sense

    It also allows the merge of different media into a single file, a bit like most systems do now with downloaded web pages. However a PDF can be DRM'd and should be more robust across platforms.

    It'a s great idea, I just hope iTunes shows how to do it rather than owns the market.
    Fred Fredrickson