Monday, May 25, 2009

Custom newspapers

Printed newspapers around the world are facing the threat of closure due to dwindling ad revenue and free access to online editions to readers.

Publishing needs out of the box thinking to survive these tough times.

Currently newspapers publish different editions from different places with some changes in content. A better way would be to have separate editions of the same newspaper for different age groups.

Thus you can have a Times of India youth edition and another one for a higher age group. Advertisers are likely to respond positively as they can target the ads with more focus.

Currently one can subscribe only fully to a newspaper. Instead of that imagine you can buy only those pages that you want!

If you are a trader in stocks and you want only the stock quotes and company specific news, why buy the whole newspaper with all the editorial and general news and all?

Newspaper vending machines are in vogue in many parts of the world and with the present technology it is not difficult to have a vending machine which displays the pages of the day's newspaper on a screen. Pages skip past one by one and you can have a glance at the pages and not read them. After having a full view, you can punch in the pages you want and pay for only those. The pages you selected is then printed out to you.

Content specific ads are placed in those pages just like in the Net. This can be tried out in developed countries before thinking about complete closure of centuries old newspapers.

An even more aggressive idea will be to place the pages of all the major newspapers on to the vending machine and a reader can select different pages of different newspapers and get an assorted newspaper. For example, consider a family comprising of a husband interested in stocks and sports, his son pursuing civil service exams, daughter mad about the film world and the house wife interested local news. It may be difficult to get the best writing in all these categories from a single newspaper. Thus from the vending machine everyone can be satisfied.

Let us see the impact of this.

Advertising will be more focussed as said above. And what will happen to the newspaper content? Presently how many newspapers know which page and which section of theirs is most read and most ignored?

With this pre printed newspapers will be substituted with live printing of newspapers. Printing will be shifted to the vending machines. Financial aspect of this will require a more detailed study.

This idea may be worth trying out.