A suggestion for nzherald.co.nz

Photo of Kindle portable reading device at Ho'okena Beach by Zach HaleI have a suggestion for The New Zealand Herald (and any other New Zealand newspaper for that matter): how about offering readers a Kindle edition of your newspaper.

I thought I’d explain why.

Yes, the NZ Herald already has an excellent website. Not only is all the content from the paper and more available online, but its easy to collect, scan and access content in other ways. There are RSS feeds for virtually every topic, email updates to subscribe to, an e-Edition from Newspapers Direct and mobile editions easily viewed on a variety of gadgets.

Also, facsimiles of the daily edition are viewable using the PressDisplay service offered by my local library. It’s like a modern microfiche version viewed on a screen (admittedly, the bigger the better).

Even with all these choices, I still think there is room for a Kindle edition. It offers something different that none of the other ways of reading content do.

I base this on my experience over last 11 weeks buying a Kindle version of the Saturday edition of the Guardian newspaper from Amazon’s Kindle Newsstand.

This is the closest simulacrum of reading a hardcopy version of a paper on any electronic device I’ve tried. It’s easy to quickly flick through the contents much as you would a dead tree version. Or you can view a paper article-by-article, reading headlines and summaries of each story, review or column.

Typically I’ve been scanning the full paper, then reading a few favourite columns first. As the book reviews and other features don’t date I can come back to them later. In fact, I could read reviews I missed from the first issue I bought in September, as all copies I’ve purchased are stored on my device.

The most important thing is that the full contents of the paper are included (sans ads, fortunately). I tend to glance at everything even if I don’t end up reading it all. This is something I never do on websites as my eyes gravitate to my pet subjects.

Other features add to the attractiveness of Kindle versions of newspapers. The text to speech option is available for newspapers, so I can listen to any story. The computer at Amazon is safely storing my credit card details (famous last words), so I can buy publications anywhere there is cellphone coverage.

Getting a newspaper on my Kindle is the best experience I’ve had on any electronic device.

I definitely want to read NZ content, and I’m willing to pay. To ensure quality journalism is available with our democracy I’m happy to contribute to costs of gathering news and views.

I’ve been paying approximately $2.50 for each issue of the Guardian, and I’d be happy to pay the same amount for the NZ Herald. I don’t think I’d pay a monthly subscription even though it works out cheaper per issue. If I did this I could imagine I’d feel swamped with too much to look through.

Perhaps going down the paid subscription route still creates jitters at the NZ Herald after their last foray in the middle of last decade. In September 2005 this bold proclamation was issued by the paper: “nzherald.co.nz to charge for premium content”. A little under two years later, charges were dropped.

I’ve no idea what the maths would be (something I’m sure newspaper executives struggle with as they face the challenge presented by an environment where the internet is ubiquitous), but according to Bookman Beattie, Kindle sales are booming in Aotearoa. As Amazon is involved, the cut subtracted after delivery might make it difficult for papers in our small country to be viable. I hope not.

If anyone at the NZ Herald is listening, feel free to use this is evidence that at least one citizen is keen on a Kindle edition. I’m looking seeing a listing in the virtual newsstand (he says hopefully).

PS See my review of the Kindle, “Reading again on a Kindle”, 5 October 2011

Photo credit: Zach Hale