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The Media Technology

Hearst To Launch E-Reader For Newspapers 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the years-too-late dept.
thefickler writes "The credit crisis couldn't have come at a worse time for newspapers, which were already suffering at the hands of the Internet. Now it seems that the Hearst Corporation is planning to launch an e-reader later this year to try to save its dwindling newspaper readerships. Apparently the e-reader will have a bigger screen than the Kindle, helping it to accommodate ads. It's not clear whether Hearst will go it alone, or try to gather wider industry support for its venture. As one pundit observed, 'it seems a slender thread on which to hang the entire American newspaper industry.'"
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Hearst To Launch E-Reader For Newspapers

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  • by corsec67 (627446) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @01:34PM (#27030905) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, but will it have free Wikipedia Access [xkcd.com]?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mista2 (1093071)

      I was wondering, could a newspaper sell ther editions on Amazon? If so, they could still charge their normal rate but by bypassing all the messy printing delivering and recycling, wouldn't they need fewer or no ads? Also as all of your Amazon books are still available for you to download even after you have deleted them from the Kindle, you could still go back and read stuff that is older, and not have to worry about all that paper left lying around the house 8)
      Mybe there should be another class of download

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by OolimPhon (1120895)

        and not have to worry about all that paper left lying around the house 8)

        I don't think putting a kindle under the parrot is going to do the kindle much good...

      • by corsec67 (627446)

        I was wondering, could a newspaper sell ther editions on Amazon?

        That was a feature [amazon.com] of the Kindle 1, even.

        The free cell phone data access makes some things easy to do, since an e-newspaper reader isn't that much different from an e-book reader.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by kehren77 (814078)

        Agreed. I'm thinking that the Kindle market and the newspaper market probably have a decent overlap. Why not try to get newspapers going on the Kindle. Amazon could become the iTunes Store of print media.

        Personally I don't really have the desire to shell out $359 for the Kindle. But I don't know anyone who will put out that money for 2 separate ebook readers. Especially if the Hearst version will be filled with ads.

        Relying on ads and classifies is what got newspapers into this situation in the first place.

  • by txoof (553270) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @01:34PM (#27030907) Homepage

    After borrowing a Kindle I for a weekend, I'm almost sold on the device, but not quite. The screen quality was simply amazing. The only thing I can't quite get over is that the sensory experience is very, very bland. I don't know if all the cool technology can win me over with the lack of a more sensory-rich experience.

    I was simply amazed at how clear the epaper screen was and how easy it was to read in almost any light. If the light was adequate for reading a book, the kindle did great. The button layout was weak and I kept changing the page when I didn't want to. At least the update was speedy. I just can't quite get into a book on the Kindle the way I get into a real book. The rough feel of the pages, the smell of old binding glue, or the waft of a woman's perfume in a library book are great. Even the sound of turning a page, or the satisfying crackle of the fabric binding on a brand new hard cover are fantastic.

    Similarly, the smell of newsprint and the act of folding and unfolding each section is very much tied up in my overall experience of reading the paper. I don't think that any e-reader, no matter the spiffy features, could replace all that.

    On the other hand, I could probably learn to love an e-reader for other reasons. For example, the mass of paper waiting to be recycled in the corner of my kitchen would not be missed. I love the idea that distributing news paper electronically would save thousands of tons of trees, CO2 emissions and eventual landfill space.

    If the Hurst e-reader is easy to use, inexpensive and isn't as locked down as the Kindle, I would give it a chance. I would even consider switching my subscriptions to full-week instead of Sunday only if they were cheaper and I didn't have to haul off 3 tons of newsprint each week. I hope it actually makes it to the market at a price well under $300.

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by mangu (126918)

      Even the sound of turning a page, or the satisfying crackle of the fabric binding on a brand new hard cover are fantastic

      For me, the good thing in turning pages, at least in reference books, is how your "favorites" end being implanted into the book structure itself. All my reference books open automatically in the pages I need most frequently.

      But what will really convert me to ebooks someday when the cost comes down is the volume of data. The conversion factor from digital books to bookshelf space is roughl

    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday March 01, 2009 @01:49PM (#27031029) Homepage

      There's certainly a big break in the very practice reading with the advent of digital media. People growing up today perhaps less concerned about the smell of the paper, the feel of the binding and so forth as you mention. But it's not just that. Traditions of typography have been eroded now that a lot of publishers are allowing layout to be done with word processors like Microsoft Word instead of a real typesetting engine, with IMO a severe loss of readability and aesthetic craft.

      Nonetheless, I myself travel most of the year, so carting around a lot of books isn't possible, but reading off my notebook screen isn't so pleasant (and I'm always chasing AC power sources). Now that the Kindle 2 [amazon.com] has been released, I may get one. But it sucks to be a member of a generation torn between older traditions and these newfangled devices.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by coryking (104614) *

        Traditions of typography have been eroded now that a lot of publishers are allowing layout to be done with word processors like Microsoft Word

        Most content is written in a language that only lets you suggest which font to be used, let alone manage fancier things like kerning. You blame Word for the erosion of typography, I'll blame HTML. At least Word has a notion of "columns" and content flow. HTML doesn't even do columns, at least by name.

        reading off my notebook screen isn't so pleasant

        Two factors are

        • Bottom line is reading on your notebook screen sucks because the DPI sucks. Wait a few more years when we get 300 DPI screens and we can talk :-)

          On modern displays with a modern OS (not XP), reading text is an easy, pleasant experience. I do it all day (sigh). Even the eInk readers are only 160 DPI (the Iliad, IIRC). The higher contrast is nice. The lack of a backlight on most of the readers isn't nice though.

          Every time one of these threads shows up, I go over to the Iliad site and stare a little lon

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rtb61 (674572)

            E-reader, hmm, ever sat on a paperback you where looking, or the TV remote, or even a cell phone. At $359 an e-reader is just way to expensive, it has to achieve disposable prices to survive let alone get past the issue of just way too many devices. The closest in reality that most people will get to an e-reader is a netbook with a rotating touch screen display along the lines of http://www.cnet.com.au/laptops/laptops/0,239035649,339294108,00.htm [cnet.com.au].

            In a depression a mass market product like a newspaper has

    • by aussersterne (212916) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @02:15PM (#27031253) Homepage

      As an academic, an author, and an editor, I basically spend most of my life reading. I'm probably as close as you can get to a professional reader.

      And I have fallen in love with the ugly, locked-down device that is the Kindle. I know this empirically because I am reading much more on my Kindle than I off of it. The experience of reading in modern society overflows the mere pages of a book and includes things like transportability, capacity, and cost.

      Kindle wins hands-down on all three. Kindle books are damned cheap in comparison to print and even to other e-book formats and Kindle's capacity is more than enough to carry an unwieldy library with you at all times. It's also very thin and very light, much moreso than most serious books of any heft.

      In comparison to other devices, Kindle offers unique benefits. I am amongst those that have read serious works on my smartphone, anything from Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls to the Journal of Housing Economics.

      Reading on a smartphone always feels as though it is a matter of necessity. "I am reading this here because at the moment my mobility needs ensure that there are no other options." The moment it is possible to put down the phone and "switch" to the print copy, you do; you don't stare at that tiny screen any longer than is necessary.

      Laptops require more physical interaction than you want to engage in when you're reading a 1,000 page tome. To read on a laptop you have to sit up, stare in one direction, operate a scroll wheel each time you want to see the next page (or click, or drag, or reach out and press a key). You can't "lounge about" on large pieces of soft furniture, adjusting your position as bits of you become overcompressed or uncomfortable. Laptops are fine for a little light reading, but they fail miserably for long stretches.

      Finally, the problem of the book. Yes, books are substantively different from e-readers. At the same time, I think that the advantages of the book address a need beyond mere reading. There are certain books that one wants on one's shelf, as a presence, a kind of authority that descends from materiality. A book is not virtual, not ephemeral; it doesn't feel as though it can be deleted. Books that are thus very important to one's identity or to one's very life practices are likely always to be bought and kept as books, so that they're present, visible, can be experienced bodily, with a kind of tactility that encompasses all of the senses, that makes the book more a part of you.

      Not all kinds of reading imply this level of commitment, though. In fact, I'd suggest that for most professional readers like myself, most don't. You don't particularly care whether you ever see a given nonfiction paperback again in your life; your goal is merely to read it, ingest what you can, and move on. If it turns out to revolutionize your life by the time you've arrived at the last page, you'll buy it in hardcover, I suspect.

      But in the meantime, for the rest, you get them for a fraction of the cost on Kindle and read them on the move in a way and at a level of comfort and convenience that's otherwise impossible.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by linzeal (197905)
        If 2 gigs is enough for your "library" than I would guess you are not using handbooks which can encroach 400 megs a piece. If I had to wait for a handbook of that size to download over and over again with no way of offloading it unto media I would throw the fucking thing against the wall. My Sony PRS-700 has 16 gigs of memory at all times and I carry 6 8 gig SDHC cards with me when needs be. My library spans over 20,000 volumes of public, pirated and paid for e-books and the Amazon Kindle 2 is simple ina
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by swillden (191260)

          My library spans over 20,000 volumes of public, pirated and paid for e-books and the Amazon Kindle 2 is simple inadequate for anything beyond a few hundred books, imho.

          I usually have a laptop with me. I view it as the library and the few hundred books on my e-book reader as the subset of current interest.

        • by smoker2 (750216)
          And how many of those do you read a day, a week, a month ?
          Stupid boy !
      • Try the Sony... (Score:5, Informative)

        by da5idnetlimit.com (410908) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @03:09PM (#27031715) Journal

        Disclaimer : I don't work for Sony but I have a PRS-505. Been reading almost exclusively on it for almost two years now.

        1/ You can buy ebooks from Sony. Or get the from Gutemberg. Or Baen. Or anywhere else you want.

        2/ No GSM in it. But it means they cannot revoke any licenced/copyrighted material remotely. And hell, who really needs a gsm in their book ? Remotely downloading a newspaper ? I'm too cheap to pay both for the news AND the data download. I got a computer doing that for me already...

        3/ Converting books/manga/newspaper tools available for Windows/linux/Mac. I even got a linux script to mass tranform mangas in a pdf to read on the PRS-505 (using Gimp scripts to sharpen/resize...)

        4/ nice, well placed buttons.

        5/ Nice and pretty body

        6/ Customised firmwares exist ...

        7 / takes SDHC and Sony memory sticks

        8/ recharge using USB or a wall wart (the dedicated one or a psp charger works)I read everyday 1-2 hours on it and recharge once a week.

        Only problem I have is I cannot "shuffle" the book, flipping pages to find a chapter I want to re-read as easily I Ican with a paper book.

        Compare both, make your choice. I hade both the kindle 1 and the Sony to choose from, and the PRS-505 won, not even a real match. Seen the kindle 2...well : let's just say I'm still very happy with the Sony.

        I took it to extended trips in on 4 continents, and nothing beats having 400 books on a card and 800 mangas when the place you go to has neither tv nor radio...the music player isn't very good, but you have the option.

        • by iluvcapra (782887)

          On the PRS-505, there's an excellent open source management tool for the Sony readers called Calibre [kovidgoyal.net].

          FD. I do work for Sony, but not in Consumer Electronics.

          • by Obfuscant (592200)
            Calibre is nice, but it isn't the answer to the Sony problems.

            Problem number 1 is that the Sony uses the embedded TITLE attribute for a pdf. This wouldn't be a problem except that very few producers of pdf format ebooks or documents have a damn clue about how to set it correctly. (The US Air Force is REALLY clueless at this. I have AF Regs that have TITLES like "u_2502883823.pdf".) This wouldn't be a problem except some of them then lock the pdf with a password so the user can't fix it, either.

            I have one

        • "2/ No GSM in it. But it means they cannot revoke any licenced/copyrighted material remotely. And hell, who really needs a gsm in their book ? Remotely downloading a newspaper ? I'm too cheap to pay both for the news AND the data download. I got a computer doing that for me already..."

          Sounds like E-readers should come with either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth since a lot of cell-phones (even the cheap ones) come with not only the latter, but browsers as well.

          • The iLiad comes with WiFi. The hardware is really nice, but the software feels half-finished and it won't connect to ad-hoc WiFi networks. It has a powered USB port on top, so it ought to support a bluetooth dongle or even an HSPA modem, but I've not tried.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Kindle books are damned cheap in comparison to print and even to other e-book formats

        When I buy books, I typically buy paperbacks. Looking at the top 10 new york times trade paperbacks, an interesting pattern emerges.

        I can buy The Shack for the same price on kindle or as a paperback on Amazon.

        I'd save 38 cents buying The Reader on kindle.

        I'd save $1.20 buying Sunday's at Tiffany's on kindle.

        I'd save $1.02 on Firefly Lane with kindle.

        I can't buy American Wife OR People of the Book on kindle.

        I'd save $2.18 on Revolutionary Road

        0.89 cheaper to buy A Thousand Splendid Suns on kindle.

        Still Alice

        • by Your Pal Dave (33229) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @07:58PM (#27034331)

          Don't forget that when you buy a Kindle book you cannot lend, sell, or give it away. If you purchase an interesting book for your Kindle and your wife wants to read it, she'll have to buy her own copy or borrow your entire Kindle.

          Seems to me that this severely reduces the value of eBooks, so they should really cost about 1/3 - 1/2 of the paperback price to make up for it.

      • by Mista2 (1093071)

        As Amazon have all of your marketing data, they could even offer discounts on the hardcovers to those who have bought the ebook. If the demand is low, even doing print on demand runs at the regular cost. Surely this must be cheaper than storing tons of pulped trees hoping someone will buy a certain number of them before returning them to a publisher to be re-pulped.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "Laptops require more physical interaction than you want to engage in when you're reading a 1,000 page tome. To read on a laptop you have to sit up, stare in one direction, operate a scroll wheel each time you want to see the next page (or click, or drag, or reach out and press a key). You can't "lounge about" on large pieces of soft furniture, adjusting your position as bits of you become overcompressed or uncomfortable. Laptops are fine for a little light reading, but they fail miserably for long stretche

      • I've not looked at Kindle or other e-reader, or ebooks in general as I assume they are encumbered with DRM...
        Is my assumption wrong?
        And if not, then how am I suppose to read a book on an ebook reader, when my desktop won't be able to crack the DRM before the Sun burns out? :)
      • As another academic, the main stumbling block to me getting an e-reader has been that I'd mainly use it to read papers, and I've yet to find an e-reader that can comfortably handle 8 1/2" x 11, two-column text with small (usually 9-point) font, which is the standard for many CS publication venues. In particular, a combination of horizontal and vertical scrolling with slow refresh rate is a nightmare.

        It seems like it'd be fine for books, but I rarely read books professionally, just papers. When I do read boo

        • I read papers on the iLiad. If you zoom to crop the margins then the page is only slightly smaller than on the printed page. There's a new reader from iRex with an A4 screen, but I've found the iLiad to be adequate for papers.
      • by RMH101 (636144)
        +1 to all the above, except e-books aren't cheap enough. Think about the cost of materials, printing, binding, distribution etc of paper books. Why are the e-book versions so damn expensive in comparison? They should be maybe 30% the price of the dead tree version.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The only thing I can't quite get over is that the sensory experience is very, very bland. I don't know if all the cool technology can win me over with the lack of a more sensory-rich experience.

      I get the idea that you're just not going to be satisfied with much of anything. If you want to find something to complain about, you will succeed every time.
    • by stimpleton (732392) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @02:36PM (#27031425)
      "or the waft of a woman's perfume in a library book"

      Some women may do this deliberatly, and could be from a practice from the World Wars when female volunteers would write to single soldiers, and would often dab some perfume on the letter.

      I take a combination of this old practice and the one of the males of an African Tribe that smear a dab of semen behind their ears.

      So next time that waft is a little musty, perhaps salty, then congratulations on reading that book after me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by swillden (191260)

      I just can't quite get into a book on the Kindle the way I get into a real book. The rough feel of the pages, the smell of old binding glue, or the waft of a woman's perfume in a library book are great. Even the sound of turning a page, or the satisfying crackle of the fabric binding on a brand new hard cover are fantastic.

      Here's a contrasting perspective.

      I got a Rocket e-Book a few years ago (for free; I'd never have paid money for it). I've gone through a couple of others since then, and I'm now to the point where my reading choices are hugely influenced by what I can get electronically. I actively DISLIKE reading paper books. I find them inconvenient and limited. You need two hands to hold them, you can't read in the dark (nor can you with a Kindle, unfortunately), you can't adjust the font size, you can't carry a do

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I swear, these are the exact same idiots who insist on vinyl records over digital music, because their nostalgia-riddled brains convince them how much "better" it is.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by crow5599 (994334)
      From John Siracusa's article [arstechnica.com] on the history/current state/future of ebooks:

      Take all of your arguments against the inevitability of e-books and substitute the word "horse" for "book" and the word "car" for "e-book." Here are a few examples to whet your appetite for the (really) inevitable debate in the discussion section at the end of this article.

      "Books will never go away." True! Horses have not gone away either.

      "Books have advantages over e-books that will never be overcome." True! Horses can travel over r

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Ihmhi (1206036)

        "Books provide sensory/sentimental/sensual experiences that e-books can't match." True! Cars just can't match the experience of caring for and riding a horse: the smells, the textures, the sensations, the companionship with another living being.

        I daresay the smells are one of the many advantages of using a car over using a horse.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Interesting thing:

      You have a lot of emotional binding-anchors with books.

      I have too, they are bulky, and difficult to carry if you like to read multiple books, when I read a book I have problems with lighting when the other page tries to occlude the one I'm reading, the only solution being destroying the book...

      I cant care less about "The smell and taste of newsprint". You now what? Printing ink is a
      Carcinogen, no problem when its dry, a huge one when people eat breakfast reading newspaper(and its hands got

    • by antic (29198)

      What about lending books to friends? I discover most books I read through having recommendations from friends and borrowing their copy (often lending back one of mine).

      Heart's plan isn't going to save anything - barking up the wrong (expensive) tree IMO.

    • Hearst has already figured out that if he GIVES it away, and sells SMALL subscriptions, he would make more money. I think that Hearst will cut a deal with e-ink and we will see a reader sold for 100-150. Singly. It will probably be able to read a number of drm, but will be locked to hearst media.
    • Similarly, the smell of newsprint and the act of folding and unfolding each section is very much tied up in my overall experience of reading the paper. I don't think that any e-reader, no matter the spiffy features, could replace all that.

      That's exactly why I hate newspapers - they're so fucking inconvenient. Granted, I grew up with free news online, which beat the hell out of the Philadelphia Inquirer (here [philly.com] is just one extremely bullshitty long-form piece I found on their website in about 2.4 seconds, a
    • by mdielmann (514750)

      Mod parent -1: Too fucking old.

  • Newspaper Hazard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kuromaguro (973466) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @01:42PM (#27030957)
    Unless they make the e-reader coffee and juice proof I rather have paper newspaper. I can't even count how many times i have spilled something over a newspaper while reading it at breakfast table.
    • Well, I doubt it'd be immersion safe, but it should be possible to at least make it somewhat resistant to spills. At the least, a better form factor than a paper would be a plus.

    • by coryking (104614) *

      Will the e-reader be cheap enough that a doctors office can leave them on the table in the waiting room and not have them stolen? Or will I have to read golf magazines from 2009 when I visit a doctor in 2012 because I forgot my e-reader at home?

    • by pod (1103)

      When the newspaper sprawls over the entire table, it is easy to spill something on it. I doubt ereaders suffer from the same problem.

  • by LittleBigScript (618162) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @01:46PM (#27030991) Homepage Journal

    That's what was missing!

    • Yes that's just what we need, targeted advertising based on the book you're reading; mid-way through reading Lady Chatterley's Lover and you're suddenly presented with a pop-ups advertising viagra & penis enlargement pills...
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @01:59PM (#27031095)

    Does anyone else think this idea of trying to re-create the subscription based model of AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, etc that the Internet successfully killed off 10 years ago is a bit strange?

    The proposition is "we've come up with this great new wizz-bang technology to deliver "e-book/e-newspaper" to your living room. But then you lock it down into a single device->provider->Customer model. The entry costs are relatively high, so a few early adopters buy the thing. Most people don't because they're very cautious (rightly so) about the new wizz-bang technology.

    I guess my quandry is, how can the device->provider->customer model compete with the open model of the internet? What happens when someone comes up with the equivalent wizz-bang device that uses your existing wireless internet connection, and can buy from anyone directly instead of a single provider, is an open platform, and winds up being cheaper?

    • What happens when someone comes up with the equivalent wizz-bang device that uses your existing wireless internet connection, and can buy from anyone directly instead of a single provider, is an open platform, and winds up being cheaper?

      A lawsuit?

    • There is already some movement from an "Anybody can provide" model, to an "Only we provide, but we do it very well" model. Case in point, iTunes music store, and the iPod.

      I wonder if an iTunes model would work. Get any magazine for $1. Maybe back issues older than a year for $0.50. Blend it with the mobile phone market's ideas, and subsidize the device with a two-year subscription on (a group of) magazines. Get the major magazine publishers and papers on board and split the proceeds honestly.

      Of course, if t
      • by anothy (83176)
        except iTunes and the iPod are not examples of that model. rather, using the iTunes Music Store to get content for your iPod is an example of "Anybody can provide, but we do it very well."

        i regularly buy content from emusic.com to play on my iPod and iTunes, because if you buy enough the price works out very well. i also have gotten content off things like BitTorrent (both legally and illegally). but having also bought a bunch of stuff through iTMS, they really do provide a much better service. you know wh
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Does anyone else think this idea of trying to re-create the subscription based model of AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, etc that the Internet successfully killed off 10 years ago is a bit strange?

      I'm not sure how old you are, but if you have enough experience watching the world, then it shouldn't be too strange to see old ideas come back after seeming to be "killed off". If anything, that's the default state of things. Ideas don't disappear; they just recycled.

      I think we're in a very strange place right now, because it's clear that there has to be some kind of business model that makes money from intellectual property, but selling "copies" doesn't make sense now that an unlimited number of digita

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Walkingshark (711886)

        Copies are easy and free. Distribution, storage, backups-- and generally ensuring that you have what you want, when you want it, where you want it, and how you want it-- that stuff is still challenging. There's money to be made there, still.

        Don't forget the generation of content, still a challenge to make it compelling and worth distributing, storing, and making backups of.

        The biggest concern is making sure that people can make a living from generating content. Without the goose, there won't be any more golden eggs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nine-times (778537)

          Well yes, I had in mind that the actual goal in us, as a society, supporting a business model that supplies us with intellectual content is, in the end, to financially support those who create the content.

          To backtrack and restate my post a little more thoroughly, our past and current attempt to do this has been focused on the creation of copies. The people printing the books and cutting the records, and that in itself was a valid business. In addition, those businesses had an exclusive right to create th

          • Thanks for the clarification and expansion of your comments.

            I think the key to keeping the money flowing to content creators is for them to increasingly cut out the middle man. With the advent of things like the Kindle, it is making more and more sense for an author to self-publish an ebook version only. As we move closer to that, we'll see some of the problems with the music industry. I'm sure there is lots of music out there that I would enjoy, but it is hard to find a content filter to narrow the choices

            • I agree, and that was more or less what I was expressing, I think. By saying that I believe the business model will shift from being copy-based to distribution-based, I'm saying that businesses that were build around "copying" (e.g. book publishers and record labels) will decrease in relevance because copying is becoming irrelevant. The business models that seem to be increasing in relevance are services like iTunes, Amazon (ebooks and MP3s), Netflix, and Steam. In other words: the distributors.

              As wide

              • Yep. Now the question is, how much damage will the death throes of the old labels/publishers do, and how many of them will manage the transition to the new era. :)

              • "I agree, and that was more or less what I was expressing, I think. By saying that I believe the business model will shift from being copy-based to distribution-based, I'm saying that businesses that were build around "copying" (e.g. book publishers and record labels) will decrease in relevance because copying is becoming irrelevant."

                The problem with your argument is the same one slashdot makes on a regular basis because they don't know any better. Book publishers and record labels regardless of ones person

      • by Vellmont (569020)


        I'm not sure how old you are, but if you have enough experience watching the world, then it shouldn't be too strange to see old ideas come back after seeming to be "killed off".

        Old enough to know that people who bring back failed ideas are really just people that haven't learned.

        but selling "copies" doesn't make sense now that an unlimited number of digital copies can be made for free (or at least virtually "free").So what's the business model going to be?

        Making the copies may be free, but finding the copie

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Does anyone else think this idea of trying to re-create the subscription based model of AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, etc that the Internet successfully killed off 10 years ago is a bit strange?"

      Yeah, but their business model isn't my problem.

      Maybe it will result in a cool gadget for me to play with (for cheap when it ends up at the flea market) or maybe not.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01, 2009 @02:03PM (#27031133)

    "Rosebud"
    (it'll be interesting to see how this gets modded)

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Rosebud was also used as kindling.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01, 2009 @02:03PM (#27031137)

    These papers are returning a 15% profit. This would be plenty to sustain the papers, if it weren't for the debt their owners took on from these recent acquisitions.

    The problem is that these papers were acquired by folks who borrowed heavily in order to make the purchases. 15% revenues isn't enough with all the outstanding debt.

    The crisis with papers is the same as the rest. Greedy corps over-leveraging, and now that reality has kicked in, they find themselves in trouble.

    • by lwsimon (724555)

      Greed isn't the problem there, its ignorance.

      Leave it be, and the market will take care of it. The companies that are over-leveraged will be bought up at discount prices and reorganized by those who have cash in hand.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Never really saw the great benefit of an e-reader for books. Last year the author Nick Hornby wrote an excellent piece in the times on the key problems [[http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article4321701.ece]]. Essentially pointing out that, except for manuals, you don't use book material in the same way you do music. However, I think a newspaper is a completely different proposition.

  • . . . isn't the technology but the people in suits. They really need two things to make e-readers work. 1) Open standards. Investing in a given proprietary format is risky to the consumer. What if future devices won't support current formats? When my reader breaks and I want to buy a new one from a different manufacturer, how can I move my library? Self-publishing? Open standards addresses all this. I will not buy one until I can really own my e-books. 2) Aggregation with value added service. A virt
  • The problem with newspapers is that the content sucks. Putting together a few writers and photographers doesn't do anything more. Any idiot with a blog can do that. If you want to sell a newspaper, you need to have something that is useful and has the capital costs sufficient to throw off enough competition and allow you some rent taking. The business is about content, and the internet is just a delivery mechanism for it. Even Slashdot succeeds partially because half of us look at it, and could envisi

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) *

      Even Slashdot succeeds partially because half of us look at it, and could envision something better, but its good and big and risky enough to keep us from doing so, at least for now.

      And it's free. And easy to get (well, at least on a real computer, on handhelds slashcode seems to be a bit, um, lacking.). Did I mention it was free.

      Good newspapers, however, are hard to make. "A few writers and photographers" is an unfair cheap shot. There is a lot behind the scenes of any real publishing firm that don'

      • by coryking (104614) *

        Slashdot is not a newspaper. It links to newspapers and other outfits with paid journalists. The day "the newspaper" dies, what will all the slashdots, gizmodos, diggs, reddits, twitters and blogs link to? Who will do the reporting they all link to?

        • Slashdot is not a newspaper. It links to newspapers and other outfits with paid journalists. The day "the newspaper" dies, what will all the slashdots, gizmodos, diggs, reddits, twitters and blogs link to? Who will do the reporting they all link to?

          Some blogs do a lot of original reporting. Huffington Post [huffingtonpost.com] and Talking Points Memo [talkingpointsmemo.com] both immidiately come to mind.

        • The day "the newspaper" dies, what will all the slashdots, gizmodos, diggs, reddits, twitters and blogs link to?

          Each other.

          Then, one day, the Internet will implode in a giant race condition.

    • by TimHunter (174406) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @03:29PM (#27031883)

      The problem with newspapers is that the content sucks.

      I don't think you and I are reading the same newspapers. My local paper, The Raleigh (NC) News & Observer (http://www.newsobserver.com/ [newsobserver.com]), has in the just past few years, put 5 elected state officials (including the Speaker of the House) in prison for corruption, uncovered systemic failures in our state mental health system and probation system, and put pressure on our state's judges to stop freeing speeding motorists with a slap on the wrist. Just this past week they told the story of a local company that sold filthy medical supplies and investigated where the FDA was when hundreds of people were getting sick and 5 people were dying from those supplies. They also find the time and money to sue the government for access to information that the government would rather we - that is, the citizens - not have access to.

      That kind of journalism can't be done by any number of bloggers. It takes large staffs of trained and experienced journalists backed by an organization willing to fund multi-month investigations. It takes principled and idealistic owners to be able to stand up to the established interests when the truth comes out.

      Nevertheless, with their advertising revenue gone to Craigslist the N&O has had round after round of staffing cuts. To save printing costs they've cut the paper to half its old size, and just today reduced the Sunday color comics section to 4 pages. (Bill Watterson would be ashamed.) I doubt the N&O will survive as a printed newspaper. As much as I love reading my news off of newsprint over breakfast, I'd take it in e-newspaper format in a heartbeat, if that's what it takes for them to stay in business.

  • Three problems. The first is that there is no mention of price in the article. In simple terms, the readers that have come out have been rather expensive; please, none of this, "well if you spread the price out over several years..." First, I am not convinced that these things will last several years, certainly not as long as physical books. For the amortization argument to work I would have to expect the device to last fifty to a hundred years, or more, just like a real book.
    So, here we have one (possibly

  • by lymond01 (314120) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @02:51PM (#27031571)

    I was reading a blog article in the LA Times [latimes.com] concerning the Internet's killing of the printed newspaper. He comes up with a solution similar to the one I'd use: Make a "news" subscription fee that would include big newspapers that are interested in charging and meet certain criteria.

    This could work either through a central site (which would be great as it could provide comparison stories between Fox, CNN, and BBC for example) or simply have it as an add-on to your ISP bill (which would give you a login and password).

    A service like this could certainly provide E-book downloads, etc. Information does want to be free as in freedom, but collecting and organizing it takes people who still need to eat. I'd be for paying a fee for news sites, personally, as long as (just like the blog says), it's as simple as iTunes.

  • I remember back before the dot.com thing, back when web was only at version 0.4, you used to go visit some place like ikea.com and instead of presenting you with an HTML, "web" catalog, they'd fire up some java-based gizmo that displayed a bitmap of the printed catalog. I think even a couple newspapers and magazines did something similar--display a bitmap ensconced in a java applet. Kind of like a poor mans PDF reader. Why did this pop into my head when I read this?

    Either way, none of these will succeed

  • ..."Hearst eReader Judged Colossal Failure"

  • ...in my briefcase for the Hearst eReader, my Kindle, Sony Reader, p0rn viewer, and the inevitable iSlashdot device.
  • Seems that might be a rare feature in future readers.

  • If you can purchase the confounded thing for less then the $200-$700 price point that exists now for the bloody gadgets.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to get one, but it's hard to justify paying the same amount for a small embedded greyscale gadget that really only needs to read a pdf and text file as I would a cellphone, netbook or laptop.

  • I've been reading newspapers on the web since the beginning. I really hate the ones that insert two or three video ads.
  • then I want the hardware for free!
  • Your device will fail unless you give up on what Hearst wants and figure out what the people want. That is all.
    • Your device will fail unless you give up on what Hearst wants and figure out what the people want.

      That is all.

      And if all the people want is free content and newspapers go out of business, who's really the winner there? Sometimes to have something viable that everyone can enjoy people have to let go just a little of their selfish tendencies. The "me" generation has already messed up the world enough. e.g Worldcom, Lehman Brothers, etc. Now it's time for the "we" generation to take charge.

  • A moments thought after reading TFA suggest that you'd probably need to buy several readers (for hundreds of dollars each) because there'll be multiple competing devices and not every publisher will not be "allowed" on every device. There may also be an artificial separation by "format" (for example: Kindle for books, Hearst for magazines, Sony for ?)

    Do they really believe that people will willingly own multiple e-readers? People will pick one reader and they will expect ALL content to be "readable" on it.



  • There's currently another post on the front of Slashdot today describing an 'Ark' where biologists are collecting amphibians in the rainforest to preserve them until a cure can be found for the fungus that is decimating their populations and threatening thousands of species with extinction.

    In this scenario, Craigslist is the fungus, the newspapers are the amphibians, and this eBook reader is the 'ark'.
    The death of the American newspaper is one of the unintended consequences of a benign technological devel [nymag.com]
  • I have no issue with the kindle, but it is too much hard work. To have a decent size screen, you have to have a large body to the case and that makes it cumbersome.
    In my future there is a device about 6" long, and 1/2" in diameter. It has bluetooth to talk to my ear phone/mike and it has status leds and caller id on the outside. It has the fastest net access possible. Connected to this device, in fact concealed within it, is a pullout screen, which is either epaper or video standard according to need. The s
  • The Seattle P-I and SF Chronicle are on the chopping block...maybe the rest of the industry, too? What other Hearst properties have closed in the past few years?

  • As an avid reader of Seattle's soon to be discontinued Post-Intelligencer newspaper (another Hearst venture) I'd be thrilled to see an internet version continue on and one day appear on their large format e-reader. As much as I like to read the paper I've never been into the sheer volume of raw materials needed to produce them, yet the online format is restricted by the frame and controls on my web browser and the size of my laptop screen. One thing is for sure - any newspaper that goes Internet only befo
  • This is one case where I think the technology could very well be a perfect match for the product.

    Here's the thing - one of the key reasons that e-books didn't even stand a chance of taking over the regular book market is in the way that people consume books - it's long and involved. Having a huge library on disk isn't as much of a selling point when only three or four books will be relevant at once. A regular book tends to be better suited for that sort of consumption.

    A newspaper, on the other hand, is co

  • I already have excellent software for looking at somefile.txt. I already have software for looking at HTML. Why would I want to buy any dedicated "something-reader" device?

    If the screens on these things are so much better than notebook screens, then to repeat a tired cliche: "Does it run Linux?" If it's good enough to be a prefereable way of presenting an "e-book" (fuck I hate that term) or an "e-paper," then it should also be great at reading e-slashdot and running e-vim.

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. -- Francis Bacon

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