Would You Read an E-Newspaper?

You'll conserve paper, but at what cost?

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Newspapers have long been going the way of the woolly mammoths, and there have been several last-ditch efforts to save this sinking ship—among them, the invention of a lightweight, portable E-newspaper. This week, Plastic Logic unveiled the latest design for a portable reader with a screen the size of a piece of copier paper, which makes it the largest portable reader screen on the market. It goes on sale early next year. The device follows the E-book reader from Amazon, the Kindle, which offers newspaper subscriptions for less than $15 a month but has a smaller screen.

The production and delivery of newspapers consume paper and energy, and if the struggling media could eliminate these costs (up to 65 percent of a newspaper's expenses), it could save papers a lot of money—and perhaps save the industry. Eliminating these steps would also, of course, conserve trees, gas, and other forms of energy, though no one has said whether the savings would be enough to offset the resources needed to produce digital readers.

Plastic Logic's reader won't just be for newspapers—users will be able to access PowerPoint presentations and Word and Excel documents, making it a great tool for commuters. It would also be great for advertisers, says the New York Times, because it would be easy to determine the demographics using the reader, as well as which articles were being read.

At the same time, the concept of a portable reader is caught in a generational divide—older readers like the feel and disposability of traditional newsprint, while younger readers may not be willing to pay for a device and subscriptions to papers they're accustomed to reading online for no charge. The price of the reader will be announced in January, but a similar screen available in Europe, the iLiad, costs $855. Is it worth the splurge?


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