Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NY Times Digital Reader Debuts -- but Will PC Users Pay for It?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NY Times Digital Reader Debuts -- but Will PC Users Pay for It?

Article excerpt

The New York Times has unveiled the public version of its new Times Reader program, which is designed to give users a digital reading experience that is more like the print version of the paper than NYTimes.com.

Robert Larson, vice president for product development, said The New York Times Co. is also in the planning stages to create similar digital programs for its International Herald Tribune and the Boston Globe.

Responding to those who have charged that $15-a-month is a lot when you can get most of the material on the paper's free Web site, Larson responded that the Reader is "a significant discount compared to print. ... For those who want free, we have a great Web site for you, but this format is for people wanting more of a print experience."

Incorporating many personalizing functions, the program lets readers download the most recent version of the online newspaper (with the latest NYTimes.com stories automatically downloaded every 30 minutes to the user's screen and then stored in an archive for seven days). A reader can then take a laptop or mobile device anywhere and read the most recent news assembled in formatting not unlike that of a print newspaper.

Articles can be saved to the user's hard drive, or annotated and highlighted with a simple tool. It also has a search function and menu tabs that let readers easily navigate through and find stories in certain sections or on specific topics. As well, the program is designed to reformat and reconfigure its pages and text to fit screens ranging from ultra-mobile devices to billboards.

"Part of the beauty of this, as a publisher, is that we can design it once and it will look great on any screen size," said Larson. He added that this type of reformatting also meant readers wouldn't have to scroll through stories (but rather could navigate through them using arrow keys).

Similar digital-paper-to-go services have been launched in the past from companies like Zinio and Newsstand, but in PDF form, which required a lot of scrolling. Larson said what separates the Times Reader from those services are its continuous updates as well as the readability of the formatting.

"What we're trying to accomplish with Times Reader is create a really delightful, natural reading experience on a screen," he said. …

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