North American and European airlines have adopted the gate to gate use of e-readers, smartphones and tablets. One of the big problems is that your devices have to be put in airplane mode and the vast majority of of vessels do not have wireless internet access. This has prompted a number of notable companies to offer eBooks, magazines and newspapers as part of the in-flight entertainment system to fill the void.
Jetblue has partnered up HarperCollins will be providing excerpts from a selection of bestselling eBooks, and each digital sample will include buy buttons to a variety of retailers. Excerpted titles include Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Endgame: The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, and Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean.
Jetblue has also established a relationship with Time Inc, and passengers will have the option to buy digital editions of a number of magazines, including InStyle, Real Simple, Southern Living, Essence, Health, Travel + Leisure, People en Español and Golf when they use JetBlue’s free WiFi.
China Southern is the largest airline in Asia by fleet size and the fifth largest airline in the world by number of passengers. They have adopted a new Android platform that allows customers to buy and read e-Books right in the in-flight entertainment system. Virgin also offers an eBook delivery service in the form of Virgin Red.
e-Books are not the only digital content to be embraced on airplanes and the airports themselves. Newspaper and Magazine company PressReader offers their content in Virgin Australia lounges, which allows guests to access over 3,000 publications. They have also ironed out an agreement with flyDubai to have about a hundred papers available in the in-flight entertainment system to read in the air. Prior to takeoff guests can use their own devices to download thousands of issues for free and can read them whenever they want.
Some airlines have been forgoing extensive in-flight entertainment systems altogether and making digital versions for Android or iOS. Some of the most notable ones include; BoardConnect (Lufthansa Systems on Virgin Australia, Lufthansa, Condor and El Al), eXW (Panasonic on Air Canada Rouge) and AVA (Thales on LAN).
One of the big trends that has been occurring is airlines developing their own apps to facilitate digital reading. Air France has released ‘Press’ Air France ‘Press’ which lets passengers download 13 newspapers and 12 magazines up to 12 hours before departure. On a similar note, passengers on Air France’s new regional carrier HOP! are able to download the digital version of their local daily newspaper, as well as the local newspaper of another city of their choice.
Finally, All Nippon Airlines (ANA) in early 2013 introduced its ‘ANA Lounge Digital Service’ in its domestic lounges at 14 airports across Japan. Passengers who download the ‘ANA Lounge eBook Viewer’ can connect their device to access digital content ranging from magazines to manga comics, information on Japanese culture and inside tips from ANA cabin crews. Most of the content can be accessed for 3 hours after being downloaded and can only be accessed inside the ANA lounge, although select titles can be viewed outside the lounge as well.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.