Will the digital newspaper ever become a commonplace media format for the masses? This is a question that has dominated the media industry ever since the tablet was reborn and to date no publisher has managed to create a sustainable product that can generate the revenues that paper newspapers do.
There are many reasons for this and convenience is high on the agenda. You can sit down with a newspaper on the train, in the park and anywhere else, but a tablet is not always as convenient. You need to consider if the tablet has been charged, is it safe to use in the location you are in and often if you have a valid internet connection to receive the latest headlines. The plain fact is that people are still too used to paper format newspapers and will be for some time to come.
However, people are also used to paper books, but that has not stopped eBooks from selling in their millions. For some reason eBooks have been accepted more readily than digital newspapers and trying to find the reasons for this is not easy. Let’s come up with some-
1/ Most people buy newspapers periodically. They do not buy the same newspaper every day, but the subscription models that publishers used are designed for people who want to read their work every single day. The two do not match.
2/ The pricing of the subscription models does not quite sit well when the paper counterparts are considered. To many, the pricing looks too high yet this jars with the pricing of eBooks which are also high. The difference is that an eBook can be enjoyed for many weeks whereas a digital newspaper can be enjoyed for one hour. That is a difficult sell.
3/ The internet offers so much real-time news coverage that trying to sell newspapers in the same format that remain somewhat static is maybe the biggest problem of all. It could be argued that newspapers in any format are going to struggle for relevance in a time when the internet is the news for millions of people.
Digital newspapers will have a place in our futures, just like paper newspapers will, but it may be time for the publishers to accept that their circulation numbers will inevitably reduce. No matter how good the content, the business of modern day living and the saturation of information means that publishers will continue to struggle unless they come up with something miraculous.