PRESSURE on the printed page is growing. Amazon have called a press conference for Wednesday (May 6) at Pace University in New York City. According to rumour sites, Pace is the HQ of the New York Times and it seems fairly certain that a new, larger wide-screen Kindle will be announced and that this will designed for a partnership with the NYT and, probably, other publishers.
It is likely that the new device will be aimed also at the magazine and text-book market where the existing book readers fall down on screen size. It looks like this new device is set to compete with upcoming newspaper readers from Plastic Logic and News Corporation.
We all know that traditional deadtree publishers are suffering and, as MacOldie has said before, we are now at the start of a revolution in reading habits. Electronic book readers are viable and are gaining in acceptance as the ordinary deadtree book comes under increasing pressure.
Newspapers are already suffering because of the success of their electronic editions. Hundreds of thousands of former daily-paper buyers now rely on newspaper and broadcaster websites for their information. Why pay for something that you could have read for free the day before?
The big problem for traditional publishers is that their revenue comes from advertising, yet few people take notice of ad panels in electronic editions. In effect, web reader are getting their fix for nothing while the bills are being paid by the people who buy traditional newsprint.
We at MacOldie seldom buy newspapers these days, unless it be for the comment and supporting stuff. Our news comes from television, radio and from a variety of newspaper websites. Most newspaper sites are now eminently browsable from a laptop screen and the advent of e-ink technology book and newspaper readers such as this new Kindle maxi can only accelerate the trend.
Our only concern is that these new maxi-readers will be too expensive for mass acceptance and will be too big to carry easily. The early adopters will push through these barriers and who knows what we will see next year? Certainly there will be a gradual reduction in price as more people adopt the technology. Already there is talk of flexible plastic readers that mimic the paper page and do not need as much handling care as the current crop of e-ink book readers.
So far, too, we have seen only electronic editions of deadtree publications. How long before we get a fully-fledged web-only newspaper? While that may not be financially viable, because of the high cost of news gathering, the broadcast media web sites (such as the BBC) are probably in the best position to take advantage of the trend. Their content is subsidised by the television and radio news departments and not by a physical deadtree publication that is losing readers by the day.
We live in exciting times, dear readers.