If you are a regular reader of Gear Diary, you probably know about Zinio, the digital magazine people. If you do, you might be surprised to hear they are for sale; and if you haven’t, you probably buy digital magazines from B&N or Amazon, if you buy any at all.
CNN has the scoop on the sale:
FORTUNE — Zinio, a digital magazine reading platform that competes with Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle app and Apple’s (AAPL) Newsstand, is seeking a buyer, Fortune has learned.
The San Francisco-based company has hired investment bank Montgomery & Co. to manage the process, with one source saying that the company is seeking between $50 million and $100 million. No idea yet if there is buy-side interest at that price.
And Zinio has weighed in with this official statement of non-committal corporate doublespeak:
Committed to growing the company, we have retained Montgomery & Co to facilitate capital raising strategies and discussions. While the company has been engaged in similar discussions in the past, Zinio has never had a stronger vision, strategy and roadmap to engage the right set of potential partners.
So, quick, here’s a poll: ask your spouse/roommate/coworkers if they know who Zinio are. Then ask them if they know about Amazon and B&N’s digital magazines. Chances are you are far more likely to find someone who knows Amazon over Zinio. But Zinio has a core of committed fans and buyers…so the big question is, who wants to buy the company to access all these dedicated magazine readers?
Well, clearly Amazon and B&N are high on this list. Both have bought established companies for their user base and technology (Amazon bought Mobipocket, B&N bought eReader/Fictionwise). I also would not be surprised if Apple landed on that list too-a digital magazine strategy would be a boon to iBooks.
The consensus after some discussion and total guesswork among the editors is:
A. Amazon and Apple have made some significant strides in the last year or so, and they are both 10,000 lb gorillas. Right now Zinio is still king, but they are making serious plays
B. Apple is entering into a major legal battle, and while it involves books it cannot help but spill over into eMags at some point
Which all leads to
C. Zinio is currently still king, and there are times when leaving at the top is not the worst thing
The mention of the ongoing anti-trust issues leads to another reason Zinio may be seeking a sale. Apple has been taking 30% of every magazine and subscription sale on iOS, and while it is the price of doing business with Apple, maybe the price is just too high?
No matter what happens, I just hope the transition for current Zinio users is a smooth one. Not only would it be better for consumers, it would also provide an example of an orderly unwinding of a digital media store, and since the fear of all digital buyers is “what happens if the company goes belly-up”, having a successful model would be helpful for the overall market.
Do you buy from Zinio? Are you checking your couch cushions for $50,000,000 to keep your favorite magazine provider going? Let us know in the comments!