Building The Perfect Beast

Reading, Writing, Wanderlust, and Commentary

Tablet PCs Are Coming, and Magazines Aim to Be Ready

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There was an interesting article in Tuesday’s NY Times about Time, Inc., tablet PCs and Time, Inc.’s development of a tablet for their magazines. I like the idea of a device for digital media like books, magazines, and newspapers, although I don’t currently own a Kindle or a Nook. What appeals to me is the possibility of having all my magazines/newspapers/books in a single location and on a single “device.” I put “device” in quotes because I still find the size, weight, and feel of the Nook and Kindle to be a little too clunky. Too large, not portable enough, not the kind of thing that I want to drag around with me everywhere I go.

What I do like, or what I’d like to see in some future iteration of the e-book/e-magazine/e-newspaper is something more along the lines of the imaginary newspaper that appears in the movie Minority Report, but in something about the size, weight, and thickness of, say, a copy of Outside Magazine. 8.5 x 11, maybe a bit smaller, but of the same consistency as a standard magazine. I’d buy a device like that, but with one caveat: I have to be able to get ALL of my reading material on that one device.

The problem is this: According to the Times article, while Time, Inc. is developing an e-magazine reader, so is The Hearst Corporation.

The “hands across the magazine industry” approach is already showing strains, however. The Hearst Corporation, a consortium member, announced this month that it had invested in its own digital storefront and a publishing system called Skiff. Mr. Squires said the consortium was not necessarily a direct competitor, but whether the consortium would use Skiff had yet to be worked out.

Two readers? Three? Four? That screams death to me. While I’d be happy to purchase one device on which I can subscribe to all my magazines/books/newspapers—and, mind you, I’d be more than happy to PAY FOR those subscriptions, just like I do now—I will NEVER have three, four, five of these e-magazine devices floating around the house. It doesn’t make sense.

If the publishing industry is smart, they’ll take a page from Tolkien:

One book to rule them all, one book to find them, one book to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.

Here me now… if it’s all on one device, with the portability of a physical magazine and the power of Time, Inc.’s mocked-up tablet, I’m there. But if every publishing company comes up with their own proprietary e-reader, for get about it. You’ve lost me before you’ve even begun.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

December 18th, 2009 at 9:58 am