Welcome to a brave new era for the publishing industry. Early today an assortment of major publishers, including Conde Nast, Meredith, Hearst, and News Corp, announced a joint venture. The goal of this JV will be to "offer customers a new digital storefront and portable reading experience". The actual press release itself is pretty light on hard information, but Peter Kafka of All Things Digital has some inside information on what this all really means.
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Basically, it's Hulu for magazines. Content providers are joining forces to create a new digital distribution method for their products. Unlike Hulu, this JV will not start as a way to distribute free/ad supported content. This JV IS like Hulu in that it will provide one centralized, standardized method of distribution for multiple content providers. That means lower costs and higher traffic for each individual publisher.Currently, the JV is being headed up by John Squires of Time Inc. They're still actively looking for a CEO. Very little has been settled on for certain. This decision represents several major publishers admitting that, yes, their business model will have to change if they hope to remain solvent. At this stage, we can't really say much more then that. This JV is sure to come up often over the next few months. As the publishers settle on a distribution format, test their website, and deal with E-Reader manufacturers more information is sure to leak out. Stay tuned!