Tech vs. Trees: NFL and American Airlines go print-to-iPad, People magazine invests in the impulse buy, banks consider giving away free tablets

LOS ANGELES , September 14, 2012 () – A roundup of recent trends pitting technology against the printed word:

Tech: NFL, American Airlines among household names going print-to-iPad

While the print-to-digital shift is pervading all areas of publishing, from newspapers and magazines to direct mail and phonebooks, some household names have recently made news of their own digital leap. One of those major franchises is the NFL, which is shifting to iPads from paper playbooks—that behemoth of pages bound by a giant three-ring binder. Just this season, 14 teams have adopted the iPad to replace playbooks and game film, up from two teams, and others are considering the move, The Associated Press reported Sept. 6. However, the article noted that half of the NFL teams continue to keep paper playbooks and DVDs. The aviation industry is also taking a step toward digital, as the FAA has approved American Airlines’ use of tablets in its pilots’ Electronic Flight Bag to replace or reduce paper-based reference material. Removing the 35-lb. kitbag from a plane would save an estimated US$1.2 million of fuel per year, the Sept. 10 press release stated. Sri Lankan Airlines has already made the iPad switch and has cited the same paper-to-digital benefits—fuel savings and eliminating the need for pilots to carry nearly 185 lbs of paper from one aircraft to another, The Times of India reported Aug. 30.

Trees: People magazine’s US$16M ad campaign aims to boost the impulse buy

Time Inc. is launching a national campaign to promote newsstand copies of People magazine after the title suffered an 18.6% year-over-year drop in single-copy sales for the first half of 2012, The New York Times reported Sept. 11. Though executives say that the Audit Bureau of Circulation figures didn’t directly prompt the ad campaign, People isn’t alone in seeing the single-copy sales decline as the overall magazine industry experienced a 10% fall. Scheduled to run throughout 2013, the US$16 million campaign will be seen across broadcast, print, retail, digital and social media, according to a press release. Out of the 3.56 million copies that People sells per week, roughly 35% are newsstand sales—the largest percentage of any Time Inc. title, though that ratio had previously reached 50-50 for newsstand sales to subscription. The decline can be attributed to high gas prices keeping consumers from checkouts, newsstands and bookstores and plunking down $3.99 for a single issue compared with $2 a copy through a subscription. Karen Kovacs, publisher of People, said that despite the glut of free celebrity news flooding online, mobile and social platforms, the weekly magazine is considered a franchise and provides “me-time” for its typical reader—a woman between 18-54 years old.

Tech: Bank freebies include lollipops, toasters, pens and … tablets?

Local businesses have long rewarded customers and possibly lured new ones with freebies like lollipops, toasters and T-shirts, but some Australian banks and newspapers are considering upping the ante big-time with giveaways like smartphones and tablets, The Australian Financial Review reported Sept. 10. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Fairfax Media and News Ltd., have looked into providing customers with free mobile devices, but plans have been put on hold due to management changes and cost concerns. That could change, however, as smartphones and tablets become cheaper, with entry-level phones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system coming in at under AU$100. Fairfax Metro Media CEO Jack Matthews said the concept was similar to that of the paid TV model, which involves operators bundling set-top boxes with customer subscriptions, noting that the free devices would have the added benefit of locking consumers in for two to three years. The practice isn’t unheard of in the U.S. Last year, the Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, offered an Android tablet for US$99 with a two-year subscription. The Tribune Co. had reportedly looked into developing its own tablet to bundle with subscriptions, according to sources, CNN reported last year. 

Tech + Trees: Popular recipe site selects cream of the crop for print cookbook

In a reversal of the print-to-digital shift, Time Inc.’s popular has collected 200 of its best-rated recipes into a print book, culled from 65,000 online recipes, according to a Sept. 6 press release. Published by a Time Inc. imprint, the 288-page “America’s Favorite Food” cookbook may be printed, but it also contains multimedia features. The book’s invisible watermark technology allow users to scan the photographs with their mobile or tablet device and view instructional videos on the screen without leaving the kitchen. The book’s retail price is US$24.95, which could be worth the time it takes to cull through the tens of thousands of recipes online. 

Tech: Nearly 90% of US households have high-speed Internet

Nearly 90% of U.S. households that use a laptop or desktop computer are wired at home with a broadband subscription—meaning a total of 80.3 million enjoy high-speed Internet access—up from 65% just five years ago, according to a Leichtman Research Group survey of 1,351 adults. Not surprisingly, that percentage rises the higher the income, as 97% of those making over $50,000 use a computer at home and 91% are broadband subscribers. Comparatively, 84% of those earning between $30,000-$50,000 use a computer and 68% subscribe to broadband, while 59% of those earning under $30,000 have a computer and 47% use broadband. Only a relatively small percentage of U.S. households who want broadband aren’t getting it, the survey found, citing factors such as lack of availability in the area (1.3%), cost (0.6%) and the exclusive use of a tablet or video-enabled e-reader (0.6%). 

Trees: Books may be out of print, but not out of mind

Some out-of-print books are still getting exposure after the presses have stopped running these titles—by finding themselves on’s annual report of the 100 most popular out-of-print books. Madonna’s “Sex” tops the list followed by Stephen King’s “Rage” under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, and Nora Roberts’ “Promise Me Tomorrow.” These books have sold for up to US$300 for a new copy of Madonna’s book and as affordable as $3.95 for a used copy of “Rage.” The list suggests a demand for books that are no longer published, and indeed, it did revive one book that was listed for four years—“Marilyn Monroe” by Norman Mailer, which is being published by Taschen and repackaged with photographs by Bert Stern. Other notable authors whose books are on the out-of-print list include Johnny Cash, Ray Bradbury, Salvador Dali, Carl Sagan and film director Cameron Crowe.

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