WiFi Kindle at $139 may be the answer for newspapers

Newspapers around the world haven’t learned that half their name is no longer valid. Unfortunately- what they’ve built as NewsWebsites may qualify as the best example of how not to build a website.

The key to the news industry is the first part of their name: NEWS. The rest of it- if it isn’t absolutely relevant to their readers- isn’t worth the paper it’s soon to be no longer printed on.

For as long as newspapers have been in business- they’ve been a one-to-many ad sponsored vehicle. Those days are over. Now, they have to learn how to be a one-to-one conversation- and know as much about you and your interests as they know about the things they are supposed to cover. Unfortunately- no one in the corporate suite has figured it out yet- and they are still selling impressions- by the thousands, instead of meaningful relations.

And while the iPad from Apple may be the ultimate way to provide a multi-media experience on a screen- these are areas that the newspaper industry is still playing catch up on. Sure - a little video here or there, and of course- photos in color (although if you look at their print editions some newspapers are still printing some pages in black and white). But- iPads are expensive and Apple isn’t exactly being easy to work with on the data collection side.

With Amazon’s new $139 wi-fi Kindle- or any of the numerous Android powered tablets hitting the market these days- the economics of publishing “Newspapers” digitally is now practical: of the $200 or so collected for a 1-year subscription- at least that much is spent on the printing and distribution of the dead wood with oil on it. It’s time for newspapers to take a lesson from the phone companies and start handing out Kindle’s for a 2 year subscription. So what if you can read other newspapers- or books on it, put your logo on it and lock customers into a “better news experience.” Make the content slightly better than the print or typical online experience- and tailor the ads like a Hong Kong custom suit- expressly for the reader. Work to sell the relationship to local businesses- who are struggling for a way to reach the masses without being obstructive- and build a community that’s talking to each other.

People still want news- and especially news that’s relevant to them. But- being assaulted by random ads in the internet age has no more relevance today than back in the sixties when Howard Luck Gossage said “People don’t read ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”