Are e-readers, not tablets, the future of news?
Tablet devices like the iPad have dominated discussions about the future of journalism, with media outlets honing in on them as the up-and-coming digital platform for news consumption. However, a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project study of U.S. users shows that growth in e-book readers, like the Kindle and the Nook, is quickly outpacing tablet computers.
Data from the Pew survey shows the percentage of U.S. adults with e-reader devices doubled from 6% in November 2010 to 12% in May 2011, while tablets only grew from 5% to 8% over the same period. E-reader growth was strongest among Hispanic users, continuing a trend of digital technology growth among this demographic in the U.S.
Commentators at Wired and Mediapost suggest that the relative success or e-reader devices is due to a mix of cost – a basic iPad prices at nearly $400 more than the cheapest Kindle – and the fact that e-readers “more closely resemble the analog reading experience.”
What does this mean for journalists and news organizations? Amy Gahran, at the Knight Digital Media Center (KDMC), highlights several best practices for media outlets looking to take advantage of the increasing adoption of the platform:
• Sell e-reader subscriptions through the devices’ various “newsstand” sections.
• Repurpose long-form journalism content as e-books, as outlets like The New York Times and ProPublica began doing earlier this year.
• Market that e-reader content via the news organizations' other distribution channels like print, mobile, social media, and the web.
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