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Further to, But David, the New York Times will go under before…

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Recently, Jeff Bezos, king of the Amazon bought the Washington Post, and lots of us have speculated what he’ll do with his new toy. One possibility is, he’ll say nice things to the present establishment, to protect his book business. Another, suggested by science writer Charlie Martin, is this:

So now, let’s imagine publishing a “paper” to an electronic platform. In fact, let’s not be coy about it and imagine publishing to the Kindle. Here, we have a platform that can deliver text content almost instantly and update it automatically; that eliminates the cost of printing.

What’s more, if you have a Kindle, Amazon already knows what you like to read, and often what you buy — I’ve bought everything from health and beauty products to specialty groceries to furniture from Amazon.

And your Kindle knows where you are: the Kindle Fire has “location services” built in.

So here’s your new Washington Post: primarily delivered on Kindles, other Android platforms, and on Kindle apps on iPhone and iPad. Amazon applies your reading preferences and generates content with the selection optimized to what you like to read — my “front page” would have lots of politics, science, and foreign news; yours might have the sports pages and feature stories instead.

If Charlie’s right, Amazon’s Bezos would eliminate the Post’s role as the gatekeeper of approved, elite opinion, the way it, like the Times, has always rejoiced in being.

Just as Amazon will sell you the books you want to read …? We’ll see.

9 Replies to “Further to, But David, the New York Times will go under before…

  1. 1
    Mark Frank says:

    I can see that Bezos might well do this but I don’t see how it eliminates the Post’s role as “the gatekeeper of approved, elite opinion”. Even on a Kindle there has to be some reason why people read it rather than say News on UD or Bezos has wasted his money. I read bits of the Washington Post and New York Times over the internet at the moment. I do this because I trust the brand.

    They are on average more accurate than your average blog (at least they don’t include absurd claims about placebos not being recognised – I am not going to let you get away with that one!).

    They include op eds which are on average better written, more thoughtful and better informed than your average blog. These op eds mostly represent a certain set of political attitudes and I trust that interpretation.

    I don’t see why any of that need change just because it is delivered over a Kindle. It just means I won’t get the sports section.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Well, Jeff will always have Mark Frank, if he buys a subscription. Not clear why Frank thinks he won’t get the sports section. Most likely, all he won’t get is season tickets in a Royal Box, but then we didn’t think he expected that anyway.

  3. 3
    Mark Frank says:

    Not clear why Frank thinks he won’t get the sports section.

    because Amazon “already knows what I like to read”. The baseball results are not high on my reading list.

  4. 4
    News says:

    Aw, you probably would not have got off on sitting in the Royal Box somewhere either.

  5. 5
    Mark Frank says:

    I don’t get the Royal Box joke – assuming it is a joke. Is it something to do with my being British?

  6. 6
    ciphertext says:

    Interestingly, I used a data source from the NAA (Newspaper Association of America) to do a “quick and dirty” analysis of the overall newspaper circulation volume. The actual data source can be obtained here as an excel spreadsheet. I uploaded into Google Docs and generated a chart. The dataset reaches back to the period of 1940. There is a missing data series for the year 2010, so, I simply excluded it in my “back of the napkin” analysis. I believe the dataset to include “print only”, as the various data categories include “morning”, “evening”, as well as a breakdown for “Sunday” papers as well. What the analysis shows is that readership in total is down. However, there is a trend that indicates the morning distribution is up and the evening distribution is down (of the total readership).

    What would be interesting (which isn’t available in this dataset)would be to have the population figures for each year. Then we could determine circulation with regards to total population.

  7. 7
    News says:

    No, Mark, it’s only that you won’t have to pay for it because you don’t use it. We don’t use them much either. – 😉

  8. 8
    Mark Frank says:

    #7 I am completely lost – what has this got to do with the Washington Post, the media, Kindles or anything we were discussing? On second thoughts don’t worry – I am sure it doesn’t matter.

  9. 9
    Mark Frank says:

    #6 ciphertext

    There is no question that mainstream print circulations are dropping pretty smartly. In the UK the exception is the Financial Times and free newspapers. I guess there may be exceptions in the USA.

    What is interesting is that the big news brand web sites are among the most popular in the world – BBC (I know it is not print but it is a news brand), CNN, New York Times, Daily Mail (boo). Brand still counts.

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