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Bo Sacks on addictive content and the audience of the future

Legendary publisher and one of the founding fathers of High Times magazine, Bo Sacks, was in London recently to take part in a tweetathon hosted by What’s New in Publishing. FIPP caught up with him at the event to get his take on the current developments in digital media, and what’s coming next for the industry.

More competition than ever before (0:06)

The thing is – in the 70s when I started out – there was only three ways to communicate: there was print, there was radio, and there was television. Each had its place. And each had few competitors in their sphere. The difference now is that there is more competitors than ever before. And it doesn’t take a big bank roll to be a competitor. 

BuzzFeed, Vox, Upworthy (0:41)

They’ve come out of nowhere. And they’ve taken, what used to be called market share, but I prefer to think of it as time spent with media. And that’s the new big equation. How much time the public spends with each, individual type of media.  

Is it harder or easier to start a publishing company in the digital age? (1:02)

No it’s easy to get in, and it’s actually easy for some to make money. The thing is – and it’s not unlike print many years ago – not everybody makes it. Some do, some don’t. Those that do make the addictive content will survive just great, won’t be a problem.   

There’s no relationship between success and the format that you choose (1:35)

Could be television, could be print, could be digital. If you have addictive content, you’ll probably do very well. 

Soon for all we know, we’re going to project on the air (1:46)

There’ll be new formats. Right now we have cell phones as a format. We have desktops and laptops as a format. Soon for all we know we’re gonna project, on the air, and we won’t have a sub-straight at all. And we’ll project words, and visuals – that’s a different kind of sub-straight for a different kind of reader/viewer, and maybe we’ll call them something else? 

Not the Holy Grail (2:12)

Video has a place in the media sphere, but it is not the Holy Grail. It is another way to communicate and absorb information. And the information you need is system specific: video is great for learning how to cook… learning how to play golf…maybe even learning how to do brain surgery. But along with the video has to come words, long form words. 

And finally, what advice would you give to an aspiring publisher about what content the audience needs to see? (2:50)

How we define content, is important to your question. And how we monetise that content is also important. I’m increasingly believing that just supplying content is not enough, you need alternative revenue streams besides your content.

About Bo Sacks

Bo Sacks produces a daily email providing 16,500 readers with latest publishing industry news. To find out more about Bo and Precision Media Group, visit http://www.bosacks.com/.   

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