Hearst Corp. To Rival Kindle With Own E-Reader

Look out Amazon (and Sony), there's about to be a new e-reader in town! During the same month that Amazon launched its revamped Kindle 2, Fortune has announced that another opponent will join the ring sometime this year, and it's an unlikely opponent at that.

Hearst Corporation is the company behind all of this, and if you're curious as to why you've never heard of it, it's because that name isn't prominently displayed on Cosmopolitan, Esquire and the San Francisco Chronicle, all of which it owns. Reportedly, the company has developed (with some help from an OEM, most likely) a wireless e-reader with "a large-format screen suited to the reading and advertising requirements of newspapers and magazines." In fact, this reader is expected to be about the size of a standard magazine page, which will provide ample space for the necessary advertisements and will give owners more screen real estate to look at. On the downside, it will take up a bit more space in the average briefcase.

Interestingly enough, Hearst isn't entering the e-reader market simply to compete with existing players. Instead, it's looking for a new way to cope with the sagging revenues involved in print media. Ad dollars in print publications have been dropping precipitously for years now, and evidently Hearst is hoping that by transitioning at least some properties to electronic form, it can maintain the "business model that has sustained newspapers and magazines." Unnamed insiders have stated that the Hearst device has been designed with the needs of publishers in mind. For example, Hearst and its partners hope to "sell the e-readers to publishers and to take a cut of the revenue derived from selling magazines and newspapers on these devices." Also of note, the company will "leave it to the publishers to develop their own branding and payment models," with another undisclosed source claiming that said approach is one that "you will never see Amazon [take]."

So, would you dive back into magazine subscriptions if they were delivered to an e-reader rather than your mailbox?
Tags:  Kindle, E-reader, Hearst