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WPA show focuses on changing publishing business

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Los Angeles—The Western Publications Association’s 2008 Publishing Conference kicked off Thursday with publishers discussing the changing nature of the business and how they can succeed in a world of convergence.

Charlie McCurdy, chairman-CEO of Apprise Media, presented the keynote speech, during which he talked about how two of Apprise’s publishing companies—Beckett Media and Canon Communications—have adapted in a world of converging media.

“How do you go from producing products you’re used to and do it better in other media?” McCurdy said, pointing to examples of how Beckett has leveraged its database of collectors and Canon has moved into events to grow their businesses.

During a roundtable discussion, industry leaders shared best practices for content, community and convergence.

“Contextual relevancy still reigns supreme when it comes to connecting with an audience,” said Mike Kisseberth, CEO of IDG’s PC World and MacWorld.

He said publishers need to make more of an effort to solicit feedback and contributions from their readers, using social media and other tactics, to turn them into brand champions.

Another topic during the panel discussion was the future of print.

“We believe strongly in print,” said Efrem Zimbalist III, president-CEO of Active Interest Media. However, he said that in 10 years, he could envision the company’s publications being delivered over electronic readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle device.

“That doesn’t fundamentally change the magazine business—it just changes the platform on which it’s delivered,” Zimbalist said. “An evolution of the industry will take place.”

—Kate Maddox

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