August 7, 2009
Is Marketing Us to Death the Future of e-Readers and Newspapers?
Editor & Publisher is reportingthat the e-reader (Kindle, et al.) will have to evolve to a broader mix of reader products, including newspapers and magazines. Otherwise the recreational reading market may not be enough to reach the level of penetration that is enjoyed by music players. That also means the money isn't going to flow in as much as it could to publishers and online book stores. The idea that an e-reader becomes as necessary piece of personal electronics also means that its content more or less becomes commoditized. Publishers don't want to hear that, but I think it's true. Look what happened to the music industry. Music today is less an art form worth appreciating when 30,000 or so musical paintings can fit on a device that sits in a shirt pocket. Music is consumable.
Consider the news industry in light of this. Newspapers are hurting. The closure of major newspapers or their transition to web only products to save money isn't exactly a harbinger that consumers are willing to pay for something they get free. One problem is that there are too many sites offering the same information, more or less. If papers report that Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed by the Senate as she was yesterday, how many web outlets carry the news? Google News lists over 3,000 articles. If the Wall Street Journal wants to charge for that information, I can get it from the Toronto Star for free. It would take a concerted mass movement in the news business to go to a paid model where a paper couldn't be undercut by another free web source. That's something which would bring a lot of antitrust scrutiny.
If news is consumable, then why not sell subscriptions via e-readers and limit what editors place on the paper's web site? Mind that I happen to like free news. The idea, however, may expand the market and utility of e-readers and actually give newspapers a place where they can sell their product. One problem with revenue I can see is that the electronic version of a news page would have to resort to an electronic representation of a print ad. Either that or the technology has to develop to allow working links to vendor sites to really maximize the value of an ad. If that happens, why stop there? Why not insert ads into a e-book or link any product mentioned in the text to a vendor site? Maybe the idea isn't so good if implemented in the extreme. Nonetheless, there is an opportunity for the news industry and the e-book market to converge. [MG]
August 7, 2009 | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Is Marketing Us to Death the Future of e-Readers and Newspapers?: