Kindling the Media: The Next Generation of Newspapers

May 11th, 2009

Valerie Simon

As the Senate discusses giving newspapers nonprofit status, newspapers continue to look for a new economic model that will allow them to survive and even flourish. In the midst of an ongoing conversation, regarding how the newspaper industry can reinvent itself, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post have announced that they will be offering trial subscriptions through Amazon’s Kindle DX.

Kindling the Media

While the Kindle may not, in and of itself, be able to turn around the newspaper industry, it does offer newspapers an opportunity to become more accessible and readily-available to a readership that still values traditional journalistic standards, but demands convenience, speed, and affordability. The cautious approach taken by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post is a first step, albeit a baby-step, in exploring what could be a dramatic change.

  1. The trial subscriptions are currently only available to Kindle DX subscribers who live in areas where home delivery is not available. This will, at least initially, prevent the cannibalization of the papers’ core business. In a time when the newspapers are in dire need of opportunity for growth, this will expand their reach while they figure out how to allow the rest of their readership to transition in a manner that remains profitable.
  2. The Kindle should be able to help improve the bottom line by cutting costs. The business of printing and delivering hard copies is expensive, and those associated costs should be eliminated with every reader that subscribes via Kindle. An analysis done for an article in the Silicon Alley Business Insider estimated that The New York Times spends about twice as much money to print and deliver the newspaper over a year as compared to if it sent each of its subscribers a brand new Amazon Kindle.
  3. Equally exciting is a new revenue opportunity. The large display on the Kindle DX provides the additional space for potential advertisements. While the current trials are subscription based and contain no advertising, the ability to integrate ad revenue into the mix certainly exists.

What do you think of these latest efforts to create a new direction for the newspaper industry? And perhaps more importantly, would you purchase a subscription to your favorite newspapers through the new Kindle DX?

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