For publishers, services like Tumblr reflect a broader shift in their relationship with their audience, said James E. Katz, a professor of communications at Rutgers University.
“Going back 20 years, publications like Rolling Stone didn’t interact with readers except for letters to the editor,” Mr. Katz said. “One of the realizations that cultural leaders and publishers have had is that there is a lot of expertise, wisdom and ideas in their readership.”
The ability to respond online turns readers into co-creators, he said, which can give them a sense of ownership.
“That is an extremely valuable commodity for publishers these days, even if it does not yet translate to revenue,” Mr. Katz said.