Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 5 July 2009

The ease of online over print

This is just a little vignette from yesterday as to how much easier it can be to read newspapers online rather than in print form.

I was sitting downstairs on my sofa with the dog lying across my lap. My iPhone was next to me and The Independent on Saturday was just out of reach at the other end of the sofa. I could have moved the dog, got up, picked up the paper, sat back down and then flicked through it to get to the pieces I wanted to read (Deborah Orr and the other leading articles was what I wanted to focus on). Instead I picked up my iPhone and tapped my shortcut to the Independent comment. I was then able to tap the Orr piece and read it followed by the other pieces without moving. Oh, and I was also then able to go off and read similar pieces in The Times, The Guardian and The Telegraph. Again without moving, and I hadn't even bought those papers.

It is now easier for me to read a newspaper that is about 5 feet away from me on an electronic device that I almost always have next to me or in my pocket. The only reason I still get The Independent on Saturday and Sunday delivered is because my wife likes to have them in physical form.

I suppose my point is that as devices get quicker, smarter and easier to use (my iPhone 3G has already been superseded by the faster sleeker iPhone 3GS) and the public get more and more familiar with them, as well as more familiar with the access methods available just via their ordinary PC or Laptop, the harder it will be for newspapers to sell their physical copies.

I am completely unconvinced by the arguments for "micropayments" or similar and tend to agree with Clay Shirky on this subject. I still don't know how newspapers will survive in the coming years but I thought the very brief moment yesterday about how I decided to consume the media was an interesting insight into the problems that the newspapers face.

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