Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Trouble with E-Readers

You will find an instructive account, from personal experience, of the deficiencies of the New York Times E-Reader at PersonaNonData. The commercial ineptitude of the NYT is startling, no follow-up calls during the promotional free trial, the dithering over Times Select, and the general uncertainty about what a great newspaper should now become. When the story about this new (Microsoft) E-Reader first surfaced, we wondered why no one was mentioning the old Microsoft eReader (has everybody forgotten what a flop that was?). The deficiencies in the two systems seemed to be remarkably congruent. The killer punch is here in Michael Cairns's review

In my experience there seemed to be less opportunity for engagement with the Reader than with the paper version. I am not sure why I felt this - perhaps it is a tactile thing - but I found myself preferring to buy the paper. I found it frustrating that I couldn't permalink to articles as can be done on the (NYT) web site and attempting to jump to the article on the is not possible. (PersonaNonData)

There is the rub. If the digital edition makes you feel less engaged than the paper version, the digital edition is bound to fail. When it comes to digital editions, if you can't link to it and you can't easily jump out of it, forget it. The prestigious newspapers who have invested in the Microsoft E-Reader have probably pushed themselves and their readers into a cul de sac.

There is a deeper question here about why it is that newspaper and book publishers continue to fall for the concept of an ebook or an ereader.......No special environment or device is needed.

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