Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Business realities are impacting all college newspapers. But what happens when they’re for-profit?
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.
Business realities are impacting all college newspapers. But what happens when they’re for-profit?
Gannett owns two college newspapers in Florida — it’s closed one and cutting costs at the other.
Where does local TV news fit in the digital age? Tegna, a year separated from Gannett, has some ideas
“By following the lead of our employees to create content that is digital first, it frees them up from the sameness of format that is plaguing local television news.”
Report: The New York Times is expanding to Australia and Canada
Having faced some difficulties with an earlier era’s attempts in large non-English markets, the Times is turning its focus next to more familiar territory.