08 September 2012

Paper v. Electronic Formats By Content Type

The following exchange of comments from a February 2009 posting deserve to be restated in a post of their own now.  The observations I made are just as true now as they were then.  This point is underscored by the rise of eBook readers like the Kindle and the Nook in the last few years that have shown that while a paywall model for electronically distributed content does not work well for newspaper economics or for academic journals, that it does work reasonably well for novels.

Michael Malak said...
You get your news in print and your novels online? Isn't that backwards?

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...
There are lots of reasons to get a newspaper in print, while getting novels online.

1. Newspapers are a much more convenient way to get and compare coupons and grocery store fliers. Novels have no parts you need to keep or give to someone else.

2. Newspapers have lots of stories and large newsprint sheets are superior to a computer screen to scanning lots of stories in a random access fashion. Novels typically have only a single story which you usually read purely sequentially.

3. Newspapers on computer often don't obviously link photos and charts that related stories to a main story. Novels rarely have materials you have to jump between to enjoy the novel.

4. It is much faster to read a large number of comics in print than online. I read webcomics, but it takes much longer per comic to do so. Once downloaded, in contrast, a novel is just as fast to read on a computer as it is in print.

5. Newspaper is useful as shelf/counter/table liner for messy children's projects. Novels are ill suited for this task.

6. Newspapers come in bags useful for disposing of leavings of neighborhood dogs on our lawn. Novels don't.

7. Acquiring the current hard copy newspaper is something you can do at home without getting out of your pajamas. Going to a bookstore or library can only be accomplished by driving somewhere and getting out of your pajamas before doing so.

8. Newspapers and ebooks never generate late fees and don't have to be returned (ebooks simply expire). Novels from the library generate late fees if not returned.

9. Newspaper photos look better in hard copy than on my low end computer screen. The novels I get from the library rarely have illustrations other than simple black and white line drawings, so the image quality doesn't matter.

10. Reading newspapers only online contributes to the financial distress of a resource I use a great deal by reducing subscription revenue and reducing paid subscription counts for advertising purposes. Novels from the library generate the same revenue for the author and publishers in hard copy and eBook form.

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