Slate’s Jack Shafer has the right strategy for print media, especially newspapers, as they move from the ad model to a subscription base:
Just as the iPhone and other smartphones obliterated the PDA category, mobile PCs and smartphones used as electronic readers could render the Kindle obsolete overnight if publishers joined forces to create technical standard for over-the-air delivery of books and publications. (If newspapers can’t agree on a standard, a prospect that would not surprise me, one should create the standard and license it to its fellow newspapers.)
If I were in charge of designing a paid online publication, I’d start with the Times Reader, the electronic version of the New York Times that I raved about in 2006 and continue to use every day. In building the Times Reader, its makers thought outside the browser to create a platform that is 150 million times more readable than the standard Web page and 450 million times more attractive than a Kindle page. A Times Reader edition downloads in a couple of minutes and can be read offline. I’d go on with my praise, but my review adequately explains why you should try the Times Reader. You won’t be disappointed. (The Times Reader goes for $14.95 a month. Times subscribers get the service for free.)
By eschewing the Web browser, the Times Reader also sent the same message the nonbrowser interface for the iTunes sends: This isn’t the Web, dude. This isn’t free. You’re going to have to pay.
Building and iTunes for Newspapers
Slate; January 12, 2009