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I would buy an electronic newspaper

If you haven't heard, one of the head honchos at the New York Times (Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.) said in no uncertain terms that someday that newspaper will stop being printed. It's not going to happen now, but it is inevitable that it will occur.

In the future, it's most likely true there will be no more newspapers in metro environments. They will be replaced with electronic tablets. If you don't have one, a throwaway version will be available for sale right on the stand. If you do have one, you will be using a monthly subscription to keep the news coming into it - or pick up a "refill" card at the newsstand exactly the same way you would to buy minutes for a prepaid cell phone at a 7-Eleven. Given the expansive nature of wi-fi access, by the time this occurs there will be wi-fi everywhere. On the bus, on the tram, in the subway, anywhere and everywhere.

And yes I am saying that 5-inch tablets will be as common as throwaway cell phones - and be available for the same price.

Newspapers are destined to exist only in places where wi-fi cannot go, as in small towns and rural areas.

I have never been a newspaper guy; it's been years since I've bought one. When it comes to news, my sole source is Internet because I don't even watch television. News online is fast, free and and I genuinely enjoy using it.

This whole thing with what's being termed as "digital revenue streams" concerning newspapers is something that really isn't going to take flight until the time comes when the physical paper is 100% gone and we're all using tablets.

I seriously would buy an electronic newspaper if it were like this:

If I walked into a 7-Eleven and saw a 5-inch tablet hanging on the shelf in a blister pack on sale for 10 bucks where that cash gives you 15 or 30-day access, yes that is worth the money. The tablet would obviously be proprietary and specific to the local area. The unit is charged up and ready to rock the moment you take it out of the blister pack and ta-da, you have your news. No subscription required. No personal information required if you use refill cards (each card would be 30-day access).

That to me is a genuinely enjoyable digital experience with tablets and newspapers, and you're actually getting what you pay for.

Would there be problems with this scenario?

Only one, but it's a biggie: Massive e-Waste. Piles and piles of cheap plastic tablets everywhere, all with circuit boards and batteries.

The solution to this are specific e-Waste recycling receptacles are local supermarkets - meaning cash back for every tablet tossed. For example, every tablet you toss into one of these bins gets you back $1.00. This doesn't sound like much, but it keeps people from tossing tablets into general waste if they know they can get back a buck for these things.

Why can't we completely go to tablets now?

Simple answer - they're too expensive at present. Nobody right now can produce a proprietary tablet for sale for 10 bucks, and the digital stream system to deliver newspaper content to these tablets doesn't exist - or at least not in this fashion.

I could easily covert any old-school fuddy-duddy to a tablet with just two features:

1. The ability to zoom with a pinch.

No more teeny-tiny print? Awesome feature.

2. Ability to correct mistakes on a crossword puzzle with your fingers.

Made a mistake on the crossword? No problem. "Undo." Coolness. 🙂


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