Odd piece in Media Guardian today about the Mail launching an e-paper today with talk about the “bleeding edge of the digital revolution”. Can this be the Guardian which launched its digital edition in March 2004? (Later: see correction at bottom of this post.)
A quick look at the Mail’s offering did not look very different to hundreds of other digital editions and Alan Revell, from Associated Northcliffe Digital, the Mail’s new media arm, says it is a “niche” product.
There are obvious attractions in the idea of delivering the paper as printed to to readers with some clever ways of searching and reading. The same advertisements as in the print edition are put in front of readers.
And e-edition sales can be included in the ABC circulation certificate although they are not included in the average net circulation figure.
And then there is the transfer of printing costs to the reader if that is what they choose to do. The chance of selling the electronic version for Â£100 a year, Â£13 a month, Â£4 a week or Â£1.50 a single issue has to be attractive.
But it is difficult to see what is the attraction to readers except in some very limited circumstances.
However, looking forward to the advent of thin and easily portable “electronic paper” readers and it could be very useful. Imagine downloading overnight and then being able to read the paper on your commute to work.
In a couple of years — if predictions (Shane Richmond at the Telegraph) for e-paper are right e-editions could start clearing up the litter Associated Newspapers is causing with it free Metro and LondonLite papers.
Later: Thanks to Shane Richmond pointing out my mistake in linking to the Mail’s current e-edition. There is a new one on its way and he has provided a link (in his comment) to the Mail story that says it is coming soon. It will be free, which is great. Appologies also the the Guardian for misinterpreting their story.
Later still (2pm): It looks as if the Mail may have done a soft launch but cannot check because the software apparently will not work with Mac or Linnux or Windows earlier than XP Service Pack 2. The URL to register is here. There is no link from the home page.