Ad Age came out with their 2010 forecast for the industry. The following is their prediction for print this year - buckle up.
Print's most fundamental changes and challenges of the past few years haven't really revolved around print itself; digital media has been changing the game from the outside. As the new decade gets started, however, print publishers are going to try changing digital. They want digital to provide two revenue streams, not just from ads but now also from readers.
In short, this will be the year when publishers find out whether readers will pay for digital content.
The first front is probably the least promising: wringing circulation from newspaper websites. All through 2009, players and outsiders decried the way newspapers post their content online free for all to read. Steve Brill and others started businesses to help newspapers start charging web surfers. Frank Rich and others pointed out that consumers got used to paying for TV.
Unfortunately, there's so much free information around that most publishers are probably going to struggle to make much money this way. "Proving that what comes up must come down," Fitch Ratings wrote in December, "Fitch expects pay walls will be erected and dismantled in 2010 as media companies (with print products) experiment with charging users for online content and are ultimately disappointed by the results."
The more intriguing avenue for publishers is selling electronic editions tailored for display on iPhones, electronic readers and those tablet computers everyone is eagerly anticipating. Condé Nast's GQ and Hearst Magazines' Esquire are already selling iPhone apps that deliver an issue's content plus video, interactive ads and other extras. Time Inc., News Corp., Hearst, Meredith and Conde Nast have formed a joint venture to build a digital storefront. They'll still face a sea of free competition, but consumers have already shown they'll pay for apps and content on cellphones.