We met with Nikolay Malyarov of Newspaper direct at the first annual e-readers conference in San Francisco. It seems a large percentage of the user base has transcend from traditional mediums such as newspapers, television, print to an online base. He makes the claim that e-readers are being used more to provide medium consumption.
Newspapers have been trying to figure out where they fit in the ever changing landscape since the advent of the internet. Radio, Television and other mediums have been heralded as a way to kill newspapers but a large percentage of people only started to make the switch when mobile computing started to gain prevalence. They have been very slow to adopt to mobiles such as tablets and e-readers and who is going to come out on top.
A newspaper that has just been a newspaper for many years is having to transcend to being on many different platforms. Applications such as Pulse breed a new way of reading content and market share is being taken away from newspapers.
Mobile access is slated to overcome desktop access in a couple of years. 42% of UK publishers now believe mobile is the best platform to charge users for content and 94% favor tablets and e-readers to consume the content. Newspapers have to adapt to a digital landscape on a more serious level because 75% of all Americans have a mobile device and 60% of all users read newspapers online. News companies know users will pay for content but the million dollar question is how they package it and deliver it. Publishers are having one hell of a time trying to find ways to eliminate inefficiencies to survive and make the digital shift. The big problem is deciding what platform to favor such as webOS, IOS, Android, Blackberry, HTML5, CSS3 and many more options.
The Wallstreet Journal recently conducted a poll and only a small percentage of users were reading an exact replica of the newspaper and a large number of people were reading extra content. Such as the same author writing on his own blog or authors citing his article in their own blog with more extra information. Remember, newspapers are limited by word-count on most news items and online based writers have no such limitations.
Newspapers are then finding that providing exact replicas of their print edition for their online version is not working that well. This is because users who read online are used to articles that have more sources credited and have more information on the specific subject matter and are much more specialized. For example a newspaper may only have a travel section once a week where you can find specialized blogs or news sources that write 4 to 6 articles a day on the same subject matter. From the normal PC experience it was not until the iPad that users migrated en masse from traditional print publishing. While Android was slowly cutting into Apples share, it is miniscule in comparison. Newspaper companies are starting to battle back with incentives to purchase a specific tablet that comes pre-loaded with their official application and their partners.
Philadelphia recently introduced a tablet for $99 for a 2 year subscription that allowed you to keep it at the end of your subscription. This has prompted other companies to consider following in the same footsteps. If you know your audience is not tech savvy, as in the case of the general e-readers and tablets market you can give the device away in an attempt to reach the digital audience. There is also a new model such as the Globe and Mail in Canada where you have a 1 subscription and all device. If you take out a newspaper subscription you get access to it via the iOS, Android and other platforms. There is also bonus content available in order to provide a reason to use the mobile app if you just like to read newspapers. While the New York Times does rather well with its paywall and online/print subscription service. In the end, newspaper companies are feeling the bite with a large departure of its traditional audience as they have gravitated to blogs and specialized websites. The big question is what they have to do in order.
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.