Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Are e-readers the future of newspapers?

This year for Christmas, I bought Nicola a Nook, an electronic book reader from Barnes & Noble. It’s similar to its more popular counterpart, the Kindle, made famous by Oprah. It allows you to download books electronically and read them on a book-like computer screen.
I suppose it may seem odd to have a newspaper editor extol the virtues of such a device, but really, I’m completely on board, and I think these e-readers offer a glimpse of the future of newspapers.
First of all, these e-readers cut down on the cost of publishing. A typical e-book costs around $10, as opposed to $26 or more in a store. Of course, you eliminate the production costs — no paper, no book factory, no covers, no binding or glue. Then you eliminate delivery costs — no trucks, no fuel costs to take the book from the factory to the bookstore in Boise. Then you eliminate the overhead of the stores — the salespeople, the utilities, the rent, etc. Gosh, when you think of it, when you get rid of all those costs, you’d think a book would be practically free.
Now, I say these e-readers offer a glimpse of the future of newspapers. There are a couple of major differences between books and newspapers that keep e-readers unfeasible for the time for newspaper use.

You can read more about my take on e-readers and the future of newspapers in this week's Kuna Melba News.

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