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Old 05-04-2009, 08:55 AM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Daily papers — saved by e-readers?

Newspapers have been struggling to figure out how to make money. Print advertising is faltering, subscribers falling off. None of them really seem to do well on the web either. Maybe e-readers will come to their rescue.

According to “Looking to Big-Screen E-Readers to Help Save the Daily Press” in the business section of today’s N.Y. Times, new large-format electronic readers — about the size of letter paper, able to present ads and text in normal sizes and layouts — are about to be introduced.

The article mentions devices from News Corporation, Hearst, and a German start-up called Plastic Logic, all expected within a year. “But it is Amazon, maker of the Kindle, that appears to be first in line to try throwing an electronic life preserver to old-media companies. As early as this week, according to people briefed on the online retailer’s plans, Amazon will introduce a larger version of its Kindle wireless device tailored for displaying newspapers, magazines and perhaps textbooks.”

There was a dummied-up picture of a Kindle-esque reader in the paper today (the web story shows something that might be from Plastic Logic, though it doesn’t quite say so). Early days.

Wonder if it will work.

   
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:52 AM   #2
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>> There was a dummied-up picture of a Kindle-esque reader in the paper today (the web story shows something that might be from Plastic Logic, though it doesn’t quite say so).

The caption strongly suggests it, and in one of the related articles, the same device is identified as being from Plastic Logic.

And just the other day I read that a local engineering school professor is looking for startup funding; seems he's got a way of doing something like e-paper in color. I'd guess his process is going to be relatively inexpensive by comparison too ... he's talking about using this stuff for shop windows.

My first question about the KindleJumbo was "How're they going to make it foldable for the folks on the commuter trains?" ;-)

   
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Old 05-04-2009, 01:17 PM   #3
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KT:
Quote:
a German start-up called Plastic Logic
Not quite German: see

http://www.plasticlogic.com/company.html

Cambridge (the real one) is about 90 km from here.

   
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:18 PM   #4
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My first question about the KindleJumbo was "How're they going to make it foldable for the folks on the commuter trains?" ;-)
Mine was to wonder how they will allow serendipity — like when you follow a jump and find something interesting along the way.

I guess we will see. One day.

   
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Old 05-04-2009, 05:43 PM   #5
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Mine was to wonder how they will allow serendipity — like when you follow a jump and find something interesting along the way.

I guess we will see. One day.
That presupposes another thing I've been wondering about ... multiple columns and/or any sort of layout other than book-like text.

Bigger is fine, but if it doesn't come with more sophisticated layout/display capabiliites, it doesn't seem like it'd be worth much. Bigger, heavier, less conveniently stowed.

Without better layout, I figure it's a non-starter.

And even as a starter, whether it'll save the newspaper industry ...? I don't see it.

   
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:58 AM   #6
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Yes, but will it be cheap enough not to have to worry about leaving it on the train?

   
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:49 AM   #7
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It's always SOMETHING.

First they complained that they couldn't read ebooks in the toilet.

Now this ...

Always something practical standing in the way of progress. Or what looks like it.

   
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rindsberg View Post
That presupposes another thing I've been wondering about ... multiple columns and/or any sort of layout other than book-like text.

Bigger is fine, but if it doesn't come with more sophisticated layout/display capabiliites, it doesn't seem like it'd be worth much. Bigger, heavier, less conveniently stowed.

Without better layout, I figure it's a non-starter.
True enough, and the book-like text is pretty bad anyway. (In order to get cute they need auto-hyphenation and some way to adjust word spacing, which now seems fixed at the width of a character. I guess this could just be a matter of time.)

As for bigger, the size of a sheet of letter paper might be okay, at least for users of capacious handbags or briefcases. Although the Kindle fits in my handbag, I find it too heavy to lug around much. These would be worse. But of course I am not going to work with all sorts of stuff to carry anyway — it might not be too bad as an incremental increase.


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And even as a starter, whether it'll save the newspaper industry ...? I don't see it.
The industry as it now exists may not deserve saving. But we certainly need some sort of nosy-parker institution to keep track of all the others.

   
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:40 PM   #9
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Hey, I used to deliver the Sunday Times. At Christmastime, I'd gladly have delivered two Kindles to each house instead of the one paper. It was all I could do to carry four of them at one time. That was then ... I imagine the paper's shrunk a good deal since. Still, can the Kindle be that much heavier?

>> But we certainly need some sort of nosy-parker institution to keep track of all the others.

That's certain.

   
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:56 PM   #10
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Here's an article on the Times website about the product launch.
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