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With vision of Interactive Magazine, Ziff-Davis' Hippeau calms fears of publishers at The Folio:Show.

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 1, 1994--Instead of perceiving the electronic media as mortal enemies from cyberspace, magazine publishers can prosper by joining forces with them, Eric Hippeau, chairman and CEO of Ziff Communications Company, said today.

"Is print really dying? Twenty years from now, will it be dead? If I may paraphrase Mark Twain here, `Reports of print's death are grossly exaggerated,' " he told fellow publishers attending the 20th annual Folio:Show at the New York Hilton.

Allaying their fears, Hippeau recited a litany of "reasons to be optimistic" about the future of print publications: Magazines are durable, portable, accessible, "and they don't drain your batteries on long flights."

Also, print is ideally positioned to provide information. Everybody is comfortable with magazines. And one page of print still contains more information than an entire nightly news program.

Then the clincher: No one has to be taught how to use a magazine whereas even the simplest online or CD-ROM service requires that readers know how to use a computer.

"Despite the virtues of the printed word, however, we can't say that magazine publishing will continue unchanged for the next 20 years. It will have to change if it wants to survive," Hippeau declared.

"So, in addition to recognizing the strengths of magazines, we have to recognize their weaknesses, particularly when they are going head-to-head against other media."

Here's why: It's easier to use CD-ROMs to search through back issues of publications. Magazines are not as interactive as online services. And video is still better at showing a process unfold, or demonstrating a product in use, than photos or illustrations on a printed page.

"So, the winning strategy for magazine publishers is to leverage the strengths of their key titles by extending them into other media, ultimately creating what I believe will be the magazine of the future - the interactive magazine. It will still be printed on paper, but will incorporate interactive elements," he said.

"For example, it is becoming easier and more economically feasible to deliver compact disks, or CD-ROMs, in print magazines. With their incredible storage capacity, these disks can contain all kinds of information, from archival information to product demonstrations to animations with or without sound," he explained.

"Readers can easily take the disks from their magazines, pop them into their computers and be linked instantly to the interactive part of the magazine. From their computer, they can watch video clips, listen to audio clips and watch animated graphics - all related to editorial in the print magazine."

This practice provides opportunities for advertisers as well as readers, he said, noting that the Ford Motor Company, for one, has experimented with binding a floppy disk into magazines. When readers put the disk in their computers, they see a high-tech driving simulation on the screen.

And with chip technology becoming smaller and cheaper, he added, magazines in the future could contain chips that, when a reader presses a spot on the page, release a sound.

Hippeau pointed out that Ziff-Davis has had an online version of its "PC Magazine" since 1985, currently has 240,000 users on what is now called ZiffNet - and the users continue to subscribe to the print version.

"In fact, `PC Magazine's' paid circulation has grown from under 300,000 in December 1985 to more than one million readers today. So there's no reason why extending your magazine online should hurt your subscription renewal rates either," he reassured the publishers.

He also cited these additional benefits:

- A new way to directly track responses to editorial and ads

- The potential for increasing ad revenues as advertisers pay

to go online with them

- The chance to capitalize on their involvement in transactions

between their readers and advertisers.

"Cyberspace is the next frontier," Hippeau proclaimed.

"And, in contrast to the cable industry, which is pretty much a monopoly right now - if one of the big cable companies won't give you a channel, you're sunk - the Internet is wide open. So all publishers, of all sizes, have an equal opportunity to stake out a gold mine."

He added, "If you accept the basic tenet that in the nest 20 years everything will be wired and interactive - the telephone, cable television, computers etc. - you can see what a major opportunity this is for magazine publishers."

He predicted that, despite tighter integration among the media - with print at the center in some scenarios and electronic media at the center in others - neither media would die, and 20 years from now "content would still be king."

"But none of us should feel that the future is ours for the taking. Someday, someone is going to succeed with interactive TV. If we're not already there with our interactive magazines, we really will have lost the battle," he said.

"For offensive and defensive reasons, we have to create this magazine of the future, the sooner the better - just to make sure we're all still here in 20 years."

The Folio:Show, the world's largest conference and exhibition for magazine professionals, is sponsored by Cowles Business Media's "Folio:" magazine and the Magazine Publishers of America, and produced by Cowles Events Management.

CONTACT: Jacboson, Altman Associates

Leon Jacobson, Phyllis C. Stevens, 212/697-2620
COPYRIGHT 1994 Business Wire
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Nov 1, 1994
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