E-readers: Not The Hoped-For Newspaper Industry Savior - HotHardware
E-readers: Not The Hoped-For Newspaper Industry Savior

E-readers: Not The Hoped-For Newspaper Industry Savior

While many in the newspaper industry hold out hope that the sudden onset of e-readers will be their savior, a study out of the University of Georgia cautions, well, caution.  Professors of advertising Dean Krugman and Tom Reichert, and Barry Hollander, an associate professor of journalism in the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, conducted the study over six months last year.

Their conclusion, after holding in-depth interviews and hosting focus groups with Athens-area residents provided Kindles upon which to read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution? It's nice and all, but not really the best way to read news.

The main issue, for younger readers, was the device's lack of ability to do anything but act as an e-reader. Thus a different experiment, at Abilene Christian University in Texas, might have a different result. The school plans to have its student paper, The Optimist, optimized for the Apple iPad by Spring. The iPad, of course, has full internet connectivity and readers would be able to click through hyperlinks in stories and e-mail the story authors directly from the device.

The University of Georgia professors chose 2009 to do the study, because the Atlanta daily dropped the city from its home delivery circulation area last year.  "We are in the first phase of the project which compares e-readers, such as the Kindle, to traditional newspapers and online delivery systems," Krugman said in a statement. "Our focus is on the way people consume media in a rapidly changing environment. Earlier, we employed similar methods when studying the growth of the multi-channel television environment.While everyone agreed the Kindle was "easy on the eyes," and reading on it was pleasant, it didn't really satisfy anyone. The younger readers, as already noted, disliked the single-use of it and said it seemed "old." Older readers liked it, but were disappointed some of their favorite features - crosswords and comics - weren't available on it. 

And, of course, there was the price: $489 for the
Kindle DX. To read a newspaper. Which you can read for free online with your desktop or laptop or smartphone.

That's not to say that newspapers couldn't benefit from e-readers at all. If enough people bought them for reading books and magazines, newspapers could use them, too. But they seem unlikely, at this point, to be an industry savior, the professors believe.

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Yeah I think a multi-tasking capable tablet would deliver a much better experience. Of course the layout, and format for the paper or what ever reading you were doing would need to be right as well. Either way with the tablets in there different variations hitting the market this year will settle a lot of this. The addition of color also helps a good bit, but a platform that would be able to open a browser separately and reasonably fast operation speed with more than one window open will help immensely.

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"The main issue, for younger readers, was the device's lack of ability to do anything but act as an e-reader."

Here is the major problem of University Psych studies...undergrad students are the vast majority of the test subjects. I'm not surprised that university students don't want to read the newspaper off an e-reader. I don't think I've ever seen a fellow student with a Kindle before, but iPhone, laptops, netbooks are ubiquitous.

But newspapers aren't trying to target the 22 and under demographic anyway. As far as I can tell, give the older readers the ability to read comics and do crossword puzzles and they'll be more than happy.

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Yeah very true, but as you know I have a universal device vision. A color screen is a must to me as well. The HP tablet might be it from what it sounds like I also like that Tegra 2 unit it seems very nice.

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Everyone needs M11X to read newspapers, check email, and play solitaire. Plus if you may actually need to do something besides these things, this machine should handle it. And the price isn't that much of an increase compared to the Kindle and Ipod Touch XL.

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rofl bighorse yeah the m11x would do fine, not quite as portable but an 11" laptop would not be to bad either would it.

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As usual with Apple, Everything old is new again. couple year old NY Times Reader is New or is it?

 

Its been available in your web browser for a few years I believe and now that its an iPad app whoa nelly its NEW

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Whats interesting about what digital mentioned is that you never see an advertisement for that service.  It may be free, but it's not advertised.

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mentaldisorder:

Whats interesting about what digital mentioned is that you never see an advertisement for that service.  It may be free, but it's not advertised.

 

Free for subscribers to the NY Times print version or paid web subscribers me thinks. At least that was how it was when they launched the service. if its free for all now thats awesome.

 

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I wonder if they asked how many people would want to use a $300 device to read a 60¢ newspaper?

Mell, actually me for one... but the ereader design paradigm is going to have to be seriously redrawn to get me to open my purse (for the initial purchase and the inevitable incremental payments). With artificial limitations on size, they're blocking out the older adult market. Who, coincidentally, are the ones who have large amounts of money to spend on things like newspapers.

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