Back to paper

The Times of London is now printing in New York. Below, I link to a report that the Guardian is going to put out constantly updated PDFs available for printing. The Guardian also prints a fax edition in the U.S. now and there are reports they’ll be printing more.

Ain’t that ironic? They move from paper to digital to paper.

I’m not sure what the strategy is but I think that for different reasons, it’s actually a forerunner of what we’ll see here eventually: Print as value added and a promotional vehicle for the real business, online.

So far as I can tell, the only reason to print the Times of London here is to get it promotion and presence … and for Rupert Murdoch to brag that he has presses — at the New York Post — and the other guys don’t.

Clearly, the strategy behind The Times edition has nothing to do with advertising: They kept in the UK ads filled with couches and refrigerators all available in pounds sterling. Yesterday’s Sunday Times, printed broadsheet while the daily is tabloid, had a British Airways ad on the front page and it touted flights to New York, when flights from New York might have made more sense. Clearly, they’re not selling the ads and I’m not sure it will ever be worth the effort to try for a tiny circulation.

Still, the Times U.S. edition looks good. And it has lots of good reading for the subway. It’s a bit pricey for $1, considering that much of it doesn’t pertain to me. But when looking for something to read on the commute when I’ve finished my other papers, I’ve picked up the Times and enjoyed it.

But here’s my primary reaction: I wish to hell that our New York Times and other U.S. newspapers would put out tabloid or Berliner editions instead of their unwieldy broadsheets. It’s so convenient — so pleasant — to be able to read Rupert’s Times on the subway without bumping into fellow passengers or at the lunch table without overturning glasses on the table or anywhere without having to perform intricate origami just to turn the damned page. The switch to tabloid helped every European paper that made it. Clearly, readers prefer it — this can’t be cultural — and not listening to them is an act of stubborn willfulness by newspaper executives. There’s no reason why U.S. publishers should be ignoring this clear data — except that, once again, they hate and fear change. But the size of the paper is the least of the changes facing them. Having no paper at all is a much bigger change.

(I’ll write more later on the British invasion of American news media.)

  • Duneview

    The tension is getting unbearable.

    I have “before July 1″ in the “Jeff Finally Posts All Brit” pool and so far today we’ve got 5 postings – all dripping in fish n’ chips. Only a few hours to go…

  • http://managetochange.typepad.com/main/ ann michael

    Personally, I default to the BBC as my home page and love to get British (as opposed to US) news. I find it to be a very different perspective. You haven’t lived until you’ve watched Prime Minister’s Questions on CSPAN. It’s a riot!

  • adslfan

    use the millions you make from buzzmachine and buy london newspaper and
    change the size and fire everyone and hire all your blogger friends to write
    for the paper so everyone in the ny subway can enjoy it as much as you do.

  • gregory

    Size; here is Asia the WSJ turned tabloid, lost a lot in my opinion, and, secondly, the best paper in the English speaking world to me is the Financial Times weekend edition, especially the second section. The writers are intelligent, and more important, they assume I am too! What a relief!

  • http://egghat.blogspot.com egghat

    I guess it’s the other way round. The Guardian found out that over 1/3 of their online visitors come from the U.S. It wouldn’t surprise me if the percentage of US readers of The Times Online is even higher. So I don’t think the papers made an US print version to promote their online business, IMHo they just follow the demand they already see (and it is a rather low risk move).

    Of course both papers are high quality journalism, so there definitly is a market.

  • http://www.treadmill-online.com Peter

    Basically I am more fond of BBC news and would love to hear that only!

    it really seems funny that they moved paper to digital to paper

    What they are upto!!

  • http://www.wingercomics.com Carson Fire

    Hey, hear hear on the size recommendation! That’s one thing I could never figure out about newspapers… you can’t read them at the breakfast table; you can’t read them on the bus; even if you have a whole breakroom all to yourself, the breakroom table isn’t big enough.

    Yet the size of things on the page are printed so small so you can’t see them without a magnifying glass. Terrible combo. Awkward physical presence, difficult to see… toss in competition from the internet and a growing conservative distaste for liberally-slanted news, and it’s really awesome that newspapers have any readers left *at all*.

    Is it possible that newspapers resist format change out of pride? Maybe they hate the thought of sitting on a rack of equal size and stature as the Globe. (Current headline: Laura walks out on George after discovering affair with Condi!)