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October 23, 2001
7:19 PM   Subscribe

There's now an electronic version of The New York Times for people who like to read the paper version of The New York Times on their computer. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Is this really necessary? Who would use such a service, much less pay 65¢ an issue for it?
posted by mrbula (40 comments total)

 
The service is being advertised in full-page ads in the print version of the paper, which, incidentally, you'd also see in the new print/electronic version of the paper. The new electronic version contains all ads included in the print version.
posted by mrbula at 7:22 PM on October 23, 2001


No wonder they included felt the need to include this:

Please note, this first offering of The New York Times Electronic Edition is best suited for users with high speed connections (Cable, DSL, LAN, TI, T3).

Because you'll need the bandwidth to suck down all those full-page ads!
posted by nstop at 7:30 PM on October 23, 2001


They make no mention of the format. Straight .html|xml? Or is it some sort of platform-specific crap you gotta install? I think I'd be content with the full Sunday edition (especially if they slapped together some mechanism to offer the crossword puzzle). Price would hafta be *real* reasonable, though.
posted by RavinDave at 7:39 PM on October 23, 2001


The only thing that would benefit a non-NY humanoid is the ads. Specifically the Classifieds and such, since I don't get those with my local version.

I need not those of Chanel, Tiffany's or Saudi apologies.
posted by theJaybird at 7:57 PM on October 23, 2001


Won't the self-referencing nature of the "mrbula paradox" eventually cause all things to cease existence?
posted by Wizzle at 8:01 PM on October 23, 2001


Ah, yes. But can you wrap fishguts in it?
posted by ColdChef at 8:06 PM on October 23, 2001


Um. .65 seems like a lot of I'm going to get a whole year - but it seems cool to me. I've always been a little miffed by the fact that online content doesn't mirror print content (and print content is usually 'better', although not always as timely).. Of course, I'm an NYC resident, so take that into consideration. Another thing - if you actually get the 'real' paper delivered to you it's a lot of paper (esp on sundays) and it just piles up and I have to carry it four floors down for recycling... with an electronic edition (that is identical) I get the same content and no waste hassle.

I might try it out...
posted by QrysDonnell at 8:09 PM on October 23, 2001


might be pdf files. if i traveled a lot and used a laptop, i might get this. if it looks good and works well.
posted by o2b at 8:12 PM on October 23, 2001


You know, 5 or 6 years ago when papers were going online... I wondered why they didn't make it more identical to the print (layout/style). While it would have been possible bandwidth wise (using HTML), browsers probably couldn't have handled all the tables and such. This really makes me mad... I HAD THIS IDEA FIRST! I should be getting royalties on the 65 cent an issue.
posted by geoff. at 8:13 PM on October 23, 2001


My question is, will this version finally include some of the content that is not available online? If you're reading the New York Times online, you're not seeing all of its stories.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:53 PM on October 23, 2001


I ran across NewStand recently during a job hunt. From the little bit of research I did, it seems it consists of client software that automatically downloads the papers (in some proprietary format) during the night or something like that. Still don't know what the market is.
posted by tippiedog at 8:57 PM on October 23, 2001


Idea are dime-a-dozen, Geoff my boy.

Executing them is the hard part.
posted by brantstrand at 9:06 PM on October 23, 2001


From the Learn More link: Downloads via free NewStand client. Each issue is about 10-35MB

That's pretty big! No wonder they are targetting broadband users.
posted by riffola at 9:38 PM on October 23, 2001


What is NewStand and why aren't they using PDF? Do we really need more than one file format for handling just-like-print electronic documents?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:46 PM on October 23, 2001


I think if they brought the price down to maybe 10 cents an issue they could have something. 65 cents seems a little outrageous to me.
posted by ericdano at 10:01 PM on October 23, 2001


.65 is a bit much - you can buy the paper version (which must be delivered, have retail profit added, account for overage, printing costs, etc.) at $1.00 a pop here in Dallas. (unless it's Sunday - $5.00 now I think!) I think if they lowered the price, they may have something. I kind of miss the full monty. I sometimes buy one when I'm getting on a plane or something and have no online access. If the Sunday version is .65, that would be cool. They don't mention if this is the city edition or the abbreviated national edition.
posted by sixdifferentways at 10:10 PM on October 23, 2001


Here's the NewsStand site. From their site it appears NewsStand is just providing a program that downloads the subscriptions in PDF format, uses Acrobat Reader to display the pages in it's own GUI.

So it's not a new format, it's just a client that uses PDF.
posted by riffola at 10:11 PM on October 23, 2001


A casual thought here. Offering a EE is an awfully easy way to see who has broad bandwidth and the willingness to spend money. I smell a new market group being coaxed out into the open.
posted by Sqwerty at 10:11 PM on October 23, 2001


Here's an article about it...

"Using a format quite like Adobe Acrobat's portable document format, the NewsStand Reader provided by Austin, Texas-based NewsStand Inc. features speedy compression and expansion of massive amounts of data.

...There is no Apple version at this time...

The digital color resolution is gorgeous. And the ability to magnify pages or paragraphs is a great asset to those used to squinting at stock-market tables, classified ads, and box scores."

The cost for the NYTEE: seven days, $6.70; five weekdays, $3.25; and Sunday, $3.40.


Willingness to spend money? Sounds like the Apple demographic to me. The NewStand folks should get cracking on a Mac version.
posted by Fofer at 10:18 PM on October 23, 2001


6. Compact. Save past issues on your computer for 7 days - Fast, neat and highly compact means to retain information for quick reference later.

just one measely week later? pay over 200 bucks a year, and i can't keep an issue (or an article) forever if i want?

um, i'm thinking...

...no.
posted by basmati at 10:20 PM on October 23, 2001


65 cents seems a little outrageous to me.

For a full edition of the New York Times? Boy, are you Americans spoilt, you lucky devils. And as for those who get to buy the NYC paper edition - at four in the morning, no less - well don't even get me started.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:09 PM on October 23, 2001


as a new york expat, i find i really do miss the format, the layout - and yes, even the ads. especially the arts listings for upcoming performances, museum shows, etc. and the book review covers so few books, relatively, that you actually come to rely on the ads to find out what's coming out over the next few weeks. that said, would i pay 65 cents a day for it? probably not.
posted by judith at 11:26 PM on October 23, 2001


It's interesting to see how various newspapers try and charge for online content without suddenly losing readers. It's always seemed odd to me that I can (for instance) sit in on a Sunday morning and read the Sunday Times for free online, or I can get dressed, walk to the newsagents (probably in the rain), pay a pound for a paper version, 90% of which I won't read[1] and it all has to be recycled. Crazy!

I don't think this is a good idea at all because it ignores the fundamental differences between the paper and electronic media. With online content it's easy to link to related or previous stories. Threading, if you like, as opposed to sorting chronologically. That's one thing I like about the website of The Guardian. It's obvious they put some thought into it, and you don't navigate it the way you do the paper version.

Obviously witholding some content for the free version is the way to go, but trying to ape the paper version is just a gratuitous waste of bandwidth.

[1] That's Sunday paper bloat for you. Do American papers suffer from the same?
posted by salmacis at 12:41 AM on October 24, 2001


salmacis. the Sunday Times could be folded into the Sunday New York Times and nobody would notice. Ditto for the Washington Post and the LA Times.
They're that good. I agree with you if I put on my thinking hat so forgive me if I don't. I'm a heft-lover. I love thick newspapers, the smell and smudge of ink, the sorting, discarding and reassembling of sections, the ads, the thump of them on the breakfast table.
I lived in England for eight years and, being but a humble wop, loved buying all the Sunday papers - even the Sunday People and the News of the World(I drew the line at the Mail on Sunday, but regretted it later, about three in the morning, when I'd got through the others).
Now, of course, we get them all in Portugal the same time as you and it's less exciting, but not much!
I suspect your reluctance is entirely due to that English unmentionable which is rain. When it's sunny, as it almost always is here in Lisbon, things be different.

Besides, the electronic version of the NYT is something extra. You sound as if they're replacing something. They're not. You can now get three NYTs: the print, the online and this print-facsimile version.

Can't say that about The Guardian. Or the Sunday Times. Or, come to think of it, any other paper in the world! Ergo: great news!

*puts thinking cap back on and goes to ponder the disadvantages of freedom of choice. Finds none and takes it off again*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:21 AM on October 24, 2001


Uh ... hello? I've stepped into an alternate reality, apparently. You all do realize that there are people out there for whom the dead-tree Times remains a paper of record, and an important source of business information? It is for these people that the service is targeted, not the casual reader with a broadband connection. I know plenty of people in the corporate world who subscribe to the Wall Street Journal not because they have the time to really read it, but because it's important for them to have it on hand in case something is published in it. Even better if it's not an actual object taking up space on their desk and costing them money to dispose of.

Granted, that may not be a huge consumer market, but it's larger than you'd think -- and most of it is underwritten as tax-deductible business expenses.
posted by dhartung at 1:35 AM on October 24, 2001


I could see value in this if I could stockpile months' worth of the paper, and use it for reference, but the paper says you can only keep 7 days worth.

I've never heard of a self-destructing pdf file. I wonder how it works.
posted by crunchland at 4:42 AM on October 24, 2001


I suppose there's a sort of person who might like to read this on spotless augmented surfaces somewhere, but I'd rather throw a heap of Sunday paper all over the place and lie about in the news and the toast crumbs and the tea.
posted by pracowity at 5:00 AM on October 24, 2001


yah, pracowity, and the crapper. You need paper in there.
posted by luser at 5:29 AM on October 24, 2001


If you're on the road and stuck in an airport, services like this really come in handy. My understanding is that these efforts really came into their own with stranded 9/11 travelers hungry for hometown news.
posted by ph00dz at 5:43 AM on October 24, 2001


It looks great on my 54-inch monitor!
posted by rodii at 6:01 AM on October 24, 2001


I bet these will be printed mostly at work (in the USA) and not at home. Just imagine how much overpriced printer ink this will gobble up every morning!
posted by Carol Anne at 7:01 AM on October 24, 2001


If they could deliver it to one of those electronic books or (impossibly) to a palm pilot type device, it would be worth it.
posted by crunchland at 7:23 AM on October 24, 2001


Le Monde started offering downloadble pay PDF versions some time ago at the cost of 1 euro, so NYT is not the cutting edge here.

I'm with basmati, ¢65 and you only get to keep it for 7 days? It's not milk, you know!
posted by mmarcos at 7:24 AM on October 24, 2001


10-35 MB download for one day?

I'm working on an online edition of my newspaper (a smaller paper in IL), and using PDF, each edition is only about 2 MB, with everything from the print edition, including ads. I can target everyone, even dialup users willing to wait 30 minutes while their paper downloads. And at that size, they can usually get it in their e-mail.
posted by schlaager at 7:42 AM on October 24, 2001


There's another reason for the Times to want to do this. People who download this thing can be counted in the paper's ABC audits as "print" readers (whereas people who read nytimes.com can't). So it's also a way for newspapers to boost their print-circulation numbers on the (relative) cheap, which ultimately should mean more ad revenue.
posted by agaffin at 7:59 AM on October 24, 2001


I'd seriously consider this if it weren't for the 7 day archive. They should at least have the equivalent of a clipping feature so you can save certain articles permanently. I also can't see anything about printing articles, is that possible?
posted by icathing at 8:38 AM on October 24, 2001


So I actually have been working on this project at NYT. Here is the skinny:

Newsstand technology is PDF based. They use a proprietary front end to the Acrobat DLLs. As far as I can tell they also encrypt the hell out of the files as well.

The files do expire, yes. This is because of, as far as I can tell some pretty specific aspects of our content distribution deals with various other companies (you'll notice that the free archives on the website expire is about the same timeframe.) However the files can be printed. Even the entire paper. A little be of a contradiction, but if you want an article or two for the file you can print it out. Also note that if you have Acrobat you can print them to pdfs (!).

One of the main points of this distribution idea is to bring the "guilty paper pile" people back to subscribing to the times. Market research showed that NYT was loosing a lot of subscriptions to tech savvy laptop toters because they felt bad about the environmental aspect if all the paper they were throwing out. I think that this is a great use of technology. The look and feel of the Newsstand offering is a hell of a lot closer to the NYT than nytimes.com and there is no waste in the system.

As far as the cost -- HEY! This is the cheapest way to access the _real_ new york times. If you want free you can go with the website, but the NYT is the best looking paper on the planet, If you people want there to be a digital revolution you have to play at least 66% of the gutenburg revolution's rates to pay the bills.

Newsstand.com is looking into selling an archives-based product in the future as well.
posted by n9 at 9:05 AM on October 24, 2001


and, BTW, 20MB is _small_ for ths pub. If your paper can fit in 2MB then, more power to you!
posted by n9 at 9:06 AM on October 24, 2001


Thanks, n9. I like the idea. I'm a New York transplant living in Oakland, CA, and I can't believe the price of the paper NYT out here. I just might be the target audience, but for now I think the NYT.com suffices.
posted by msacheson at 9:15 AM on October 24, 2001


OK, you sold me. I purchased the $13 six-week subscription. (a $0.36 per issue introductory offer)

The download for today's 26.8mb paper took approximately 30 minutes on a DSL line to my laptop, with three connection interruptions. A minor irritation today, but I hope this does not continue over the next six weeks.

After one crash in the Adobe plug-in, I successfully started the NewsStand application. Reading the paper is a little cramped on my 15" flat-panel monitor (equivalent to a 17" CRT). My resolution is 1024x768 and I have decent eyesight, but this is difficult.

~10 minutes later

I just finished the first section of the paper. I really really enjoy getting the full richness of the NYT, and the ability to click links to continue articles is wonderful.

But reading at full width is hard on the eyes. But the scrolling features of the NewsStand application are SLOW! I tried the keyboard and the mouse, but it never seemed to center where I wanted it to go. The app really needs a little grabby hand to "pull" the paper visually - it's really frustrating to read as it is.

Unless the interface gets better I will probably not renew in six weeks at the full price. The .pdf format is not as well suited to the quick browse as is the print or online versions. And the interface is CLUNKY to navigate, even for tech-savvy folk like myself. I tried mouse, keyboard, keystrokes, everything I could think of to facilitate ease-of-use. Even Adobe .pdf files are easier to read.

Well, at least it's better than the San Francisco Guardian/Examiner! That paper is hard to read, but not in a way that technology can solve.
posted by avowel at 2:23 PM on October 24, 2001


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