Electronic Editions Could Save Plenty ... if Readers Switched
Rising costs of postage and paper give publishers a major incentive to convert circulation from print to electronic, but adoption remains in the early stages.Newspaper and magazine publishers, besieged by rising costs, tumbling circulation and the frustration of giving their content away on Web sites, are gradually turning to downloadable electronic editions as an alternative to print. Although the technology is in place and vendors are in the marketplace offering to convert print publications to digital facsimiles, experts agree that the evolution of electronic editions is in its early stages, and there are large obstacles to overcome.
As an alternative to printed periodicals, with their high costs for production and distribution, electronic editions offer many advantages. "They extend publishers reach in the sense that the market for hard copy is dropping," said Jean Bedord, senior analyst for Shore Communications, in Cupertino, Calif. "Its flat at best, and there are a lot of inefficiencies for periodicals. [A periodical] has to be printed in a central spot. A label has to be put on it. It has to be physically transported to my mailbox. So each step along the way adds a cost. Then look at the newsstand and see how many copies get thrown away.