E-readers, Tablets Not Likely To Save Newspapers

January 7, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Financial Services | Media & Entertainment | Newspapers | Technology

Some industry watchers had predicted that e-readers just might save the newspaper industry – but that has yet to happen, despite the fact that e-reader sales are soaring, reports MediaBuyerPlanner.

About six million e-reader devices – including Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s e-reader, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Conde Nast’s Skiff – will be sold this year, Forrester predicts (via EditorsWeblog).

Newspaper publishers get 30% of subscriptions sold on e-readers, and more newspapers are becoming available every day. Digital newspaper distributor NewspaperDirect, for example, is boosting the number of newspapers and magazines available on the Kindle by 1,400, according to Canada’s Globe and Mail.

Newspapers Can’t Make E-reader Numbers Work

But six million e-readers sold are a pittance when compared with the general US population of more than 300 million people, and the number of newspaper subscriptions sold via those devices will be even smaller. “If the Dallas-Fort Worth area has two percent of that, that’s only 6,000 Kindles,” said James Moroney, publisher and CEO of the Dallas Morning News. Moroney crunches the numbers in a Portfolio article, showing how insignificant e-reader subscriptions really are.

Tablets – the New Newspaper Savior?

Tablets are the latest device being touted as the savior for newspapers, MediaBuyerPlanner said.? With touch-screen interfaces, color screens, web browsing and e-reader capabilities, some think such devices will speed the consumption of digital newspapers. Apple’s iSlate is one such device, said to be ready for launch early this year.

However, as these devices are expected to cost as much as $1,000, they may not be considered as “must-haves” for many consumers. And e-readers boast longer battery life and text that is more easily readable.

Newspaper publishers could boost the potential to cash in on tables by fully embracing multimedia content production and multiplatform distribution, points out the Innovations in Newspapers blog, which offers 10 ways newspapers must adjust in order to take advantage of new content delivery systems like tablets and e-readers.

E-reader Audiences More Affluent, Well Educated

One hope for newspapers in terms of e-reader audiences is that users skew higher in terms of education and income than the general public, which means newspapers may be able to attract more luxury advertisers. According to Mediamark Research & Intelligence, e-reader users are 11% more likely than the average adult to own their home and are 87% more likely to have annual household income of $100K+. And they are 111% more likely than the average adult to have obtained a Bachelor’s or post-graduate degree.

“Clearly, users of the current generation of e-readers are highly educated, upscale and internet savvy,” said Anne Marie Kelly, SVP, marketing & strategic planning, at MRI.

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