Thursday, September 22, 2011

Is Kindle the life raft of newspapers?

The newspaper built its reputation by writing the equivalent of a novella every day, printing it while we slept and delivering it to our door by the time we turned on the morning coffee pot.

Now, paper--as in the paper product--feels either like a luxury we can't afford, due to the cost of the tree it takes to print it, or the whole idea of a printed newspaper feels old-fashioned.

Fewer of us want an information push. We want information customization.

Fewer of us want to read a report of what happened at a meeting (read the minutes of any board meeting). We don't want verbatim, we want to know what it means.

Newspapers are both the most objective voice in the community, and at the same time they harbor some of the most cynical (flip to the opinion section, or have a beer with a reporter).

Newspapers have the greatest reach in the community, bar none, and they are losing audience for the print product at a steady, tumbling pace that probably hasn't hit rock bottom.

That makes newspapers the biggest loser. On TV that makes you a winner. In real life, well, that remains to be seen.

For an industry that hasn't changed all that much in the last 400 years, with the exception of the entrance of the Internet, I wonder what would happen if tomorrow the paper wasn't delivered to my door. Would I be able to figure out where to buy groceries, where to eat for lunch, what's playing at the movie, what the next workshop at city hall is about, when the school board meets.

I wonder for about two seconds, because, of course, I can find all that information online.

What would happen if the newspaper was delivered, not to my doorstep, but to my Kindle? Would I feel differently about the newspaper, would I read it differently, would I connect with it differently, would I pass it along as easily as I forward an online link or place an open newspaper section on someone's desk?

In July, Geeky Gadget reported that "Amazon’s Kindle App now offers 100 newspaper and magazine subscriptions."

Is this the last throws of a drowning man splashing in the Internet pool, or a way for consumers to highlight, tag, and archive the content they want?

I wonder.

What are the top three newspaper publication dates that you would keep on your Kindle? 9/11, Obama Wins, the article of your kid?

Let me know -- I'm pondering at the crossroads.