Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
As giant platforms rise, local news is getting crushed
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 16, 2011, 10 a.m.

From Nieman Reports: For French news site Owni, ebooks aren’t just a side project

Owni “doesn’t carry advertisements and publishes all of its content under a Creative Commons license. Selling products — including e-books — is its big bet.”

Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with their Winter 2011 issue,”Writing the Book,” which focuses on the new relationships between journalism and the evolving book publishing industry. Over the next few days, we’ll highlight a few stories from the issue — but go read the whole thing. In this piece, Federica Cocco writes about how the French site Owni is investing in ebooks in a big way.

Visit Owni.fr and adjacent to its logo, among French words and enticing graphics, is its English tagline: News, Augmented. The words reflect the website’s ambitious spirit, its dictum, and manifesto: to present news with an added layer of digital bonuses — maps and apps and interactive infographics. An intriguing red circle on a tiny pull string hangs from the top of our homepage. Scroll over the circle and the OwniShop logo appears. Move it away, and the logo vanishes.

This understated, almost coy advertising strategy mirrors Owni’s tentative ebook sales strategy. Though ebook sales in France are rapidly picking up, especially with the Kindle store opening this past October, Owni is the first media outlet in France to sell ebooks as part of its core editorial output.

The Owni website features augmented and data-driven stories and investigations. Blogger and Web entrepreneur Nicolas Voisin founded Owni in 2009 at a time when bloggers were involved in a massive campaign against France’s passage of the antipiracy HADOPI law involving copyright issues. With Owni, he created a platform for the blogging community and he hired staff to oversee the content, its presentation, and its distribution. The website’s editorial focus is promoting freedom of expression.

Like other websites in France, Owni receives a government subsidy and brings in some money through fundraising. Voisin’s Web agency 22Mars, founded in 2006, takes in revenue from the sale of various products related to Owni, including apps, online platforms, interactive maps, and infographics. Yet none of these items sells enough to make a profit. Will selling ebooks make a difference? It’s too soon to know.

Keep reading at Nieman Reports »

POSTED     Dec. 16, 2011, 10 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
As giant platforms rise, local news is getting crushed
The quest for scale, driven by the distribution power of a few enormous technology platforms, is killing the business case for local news. Will anything take its place?
Hot Pod: The podcast collective Radiotopia has a new leader
“I keep hearing stories about her being a great mentor to many a young fledgling producer. To me, that willingness to actively think about the next generation of producers is shorthand for proper leadership.”
Building a j-school from scratch: How The New School aims to bring journalism and design together
“I’m not so much interested in specific skills as dispositions. Are we helping people be able to learn really fast, so when things do change they can move with it without completely freaking out?”
What to read next
2569
tweets
The New York Times built a Slack bot to help decide which stories to post to social media
The bot, named Blossom, helps predict how stories will do on social and also suggests which stories editors should promote.
1287Jo Ellen Green Kaiser: Do independent news outlets have a blind spot when it comes to ethnic media?
The head of the Media Consortium argues that, by defining themselves in opposition to mainstream media, independent progressive outlets miss out on the power of ethnic and community journalism.
1029Newsonomics: 10 numbers on The New York Times’ 1 million digital-subscriber milestone
Digital subscribers are proving to be the bedrock of the Times’ business model going forward. How much more room is there for growth — and at what price points?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
National Review
Hearst
CBS News
Mother Jones
NBC News
Center for Public Integrity
Zonie Report
I-News
The Miami Herald
Daily Mail
Conde Nast
Backfence