Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Death of Newspapers

Bloggers of various reputes predict the death of newspapers (in paper form). In fact they have been doing so for some time now. This includes Seth Godin, who I admire for his views.

However, I think their viewing window is very myopic. And they talk only of US. Welcome to India. Find out the depth of digital penetration. Walk into any store (not just supermarkets); check out the number of magazines that line up the racks - they are gone by the end of the week/month. Magazines and Newspapers are not going to die out any time soon. In fact, the circulation is growing. Vernacular Newspapers, such as Dainik Bhaskar, is now pushing into the metros.

I am not so sure about US either. I talked to a regular Kindle user - from US - just the other day. He is an avid reader. So I asked him if he subscribes to newspapers on Kindle. "No", he said, "the format is not what I expected. It is no fun."

The argument against newspapers is that a) it is expensive b) the news is old by the time you read it. Inexpensive is a game even newspapers can play. As it is, in India at least, it is not expensive at all. Besides, everyone knows that newspapers do not contain breaking news. Newspapers have an advantage that digital free-for-all versions do not. And that is this: It is organized news. And it gives you all relevant news with the least effort. Try gathering all news in the newspaper on the internet and see how much time you need to spend. Not everyone needs news instantaneously. But everyone needs them organized. Therein lies the key to newspaper survival.

Personally, I cannot see myself in the toilet with a Kindle in my hand. Give me the rustle of newspaper any day.

Do you agree? Or do you see death written on the face of paper newspapers and magazines

PS: Didn't realize who Malcolm is? Seth is talking, in his blog, of Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers, The Tipping Point and Blink. Do read the review by Malcolm Gladwell (link in Seth's Blog). It is very interesting and designed to provoke varied reactions.

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