Wednesday, May 28, 2008


With all their talk of Web initiatives, many have been waiting to see what bold new plans are on the table for LANG.

San Jose might offer a hint of things to come: A deal with Technavia, for an "e-edition" of the Mercury News.

"Every page of the Mercury News, without the paper..."

In other words, a pdf of the regular newspaper.

The new service comes as a subscription-only model, with a 30-day archive, keyword search, and catalog system for finding specific items.

e-paper is nothing new. Even among MediaNews, it's already been done.

There's no telling if an e-edition is coming to LANG, but there are obstacles that an e-paper has to address in order to be effective.

The target audience is limited - most folks can be satisfied with either the online or the print edition of the paper, so the gains in circulation from a special "digital-print" edition will be hard-pressed to offset production costs, even if that circulation boost supplements the print advertising numbers. San Jose is attempting to solve the cost problem by making it a paid-content service. Regular Web news experimented with a paid subscription model, and it hasn't worked.

If they can reduce the production costs, there's no reason not to do a pdf version. The market might be small, but it provides an intermediate delivery system with its own unique benefits. Anything that increases your audience without draining your pocketbook is a worthwhile endeavor. But is there enough of an audience that prefers the traditional format, but wants digital delivery...and most importantly, is willing to pay for it? Only time will tell.

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