The thinnest e-reader in history

Hester Gras

Last Tuesday, November 26, imgZine drove down to Den Bosch for the National Publishing Conference. The event, hosted by Mediafacts, offered thirty different sessions on mobile, social and big data. Besides offering educational resources and inspiring talks, the conference gave us an opportunity to explore fantastic business cases that illustrate the world’s changing consumer behavior. Here are our key takeaways from what we considered to be the event’s most interesting lecture.

Digital Newspaper flexible ereaderJanne Kaijärvi, Leia Media’s Chief Media Officer, started his lecture with an interesting quote from Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter: “We often think the Internet enables you to do new things. But people just want to do the same things they’ve always done.” It’s not entirely true, because the newest generation does show a new consuming and reading behavior. On the other hand, for instance: most of us still like to check the news. Our main needs haven’t changed, but the way we consume has.

This is a big problem for today’s publishers. Publishing a daily newspaper in print is now too expensive due to declining print readership. Less distributed print copies means waste and higher storage costs. Thus, distribution prices have risen by 100% and they will continue to rise worldwide.

Publishers are also struggling to monetize through advertising while Google’s share of mobile ads is 53% and that of Facebook is 17% (That’s 70% altogether). What are these companies doing that most of publishers aren’t? Hal Varian – Chief Economist at Google explains the main challenge: user engagement. First, newspaper publishers need to increase the amount of time people spend on their content. Second, to get greater ad revenues, publishers need to boost reader engagement as well.

The need for a new digital solution
Leia Media cooperated with four other Finnish companies: Sanoma News, Bluegiga, Anygraaf and DNA.Together, they
developed a new ePaper reader for magazines, books and newspapers (see: http://www.digile.fi/article/203). Janne Kaijärvi: “We
need something that’s easy to distribute and not too expensive. Something that can be read in the morning, and in the evening
.”

These are the reader’s features:

  • A flexible, plastic screen
  • It’s lighter than a mobile phone
  • It’s very thin: the next one will be 6 mm
  • Powered 100% by solar energy
  • A Touch screen
  • Readers can personalize the newspaper
  • The newspaper contains real time updates
  • Price is decided by the consumer
    (and might even be free in the future)

With this pilot, Leia Media hopes to determine if people really want to read on tablets and
smartphones, or would much rather have something that’s just as trustworthy as paper.

Nationale Uitgeefdag MediaFactsWill the idea catch on?
According to Leia Media, their e-Paper reader has one key advantage: users don’t need to go online to read the news. However, aren’t consumers craving for news that they can tap into online when they’re on the go? Do they really desire a print-like e-reader? The concept is truly fascinating, but most consumers are already quite used to reading the news on their mobile device. It will be interesting to see if such an idea gains momentum.

What do you think about the new e-Paper concept? Share your thoughts with us in the comments and follow imgZine on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn for more digital publishing insights.

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