Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Time Inc.’s Newest Product: A Magazine, Printed on Paper

Time Inc.’s newest product took nine months of meticulous work, carefully calibrated focus groups and a bunch of money. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the Internet, the Kindle or the iPad.

Time Warner’s (TWX) magazine unit is showing off a redesign of Fortune magazine, which should be in subscribers’ hands shortly and on newsstands next week.

Like every other business magazine, Fortune took a pretty good beating from the one-two punch of the recession and traditional media collapse. And I don’t think overhauling the way its pages look and feel will do much to change that.

But it’s still interesting to hear editor Andy Serwer explain why he thinks it’s important, and he was kind enough to chat with me about that the other day.

Note how emphatic Serwer is about the standalone status of Fortune as a print product. The periodical is starting to overhaul its neglected Web site as well, and Serwer pays obligatory lip service to the notion of Fortune on Apple’s (AAPL) iPad, Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle and other digital platforms of the future.

But he’s clear that the magazine’s success or failure will depend on how readers and advertisers respond to the pen-and-ink product it is selling in the present tense.

Not revelatory, but a good reminder.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work