Media Relations Minute: Paper, Jetsons-style
Next time you are riding the bus or train to work in the morning, look around you. How many people are staring down at electronic readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle? How many people are holding a newspaper, a book or a magazine? According to some, the amount of the former is on the rise, which leads one to believe that the number of the latter is on the decline.
There are certain elements that detract from the “e-Reading” experience, particularly, the unfamiliarity of scanning the news or reading a book off a handheld electronic device. From its tactile nature to the process of turning the pages or highlighting a passage from a book, magazine or newspaper article, people are generally more comfortable with reading from printed paper. We do indeed “see” with our hands, so, to some, reading a flat screen does not afford the same nostalgic feeling as paper does. (For a slightly different take on this topic, check out Lisa Davis’ post, “What’s news with you?” on the changing of news delivery and intake.)
Fortunately, eReader technology is making great strides to repair this void. In January, LG Electronics debuted flexible ePaper in Asia, in a newspaper-friendly A3 size. The “paper” can be bent and rolled without warping the images displayed on the page. The Human Media Lab at Queen’s University Canada is developing a “paper computer” that allows readers to visually flip and dog-ear touch-screen pages, as well as highlight passages with their fingertips.
These innovative products are still a few years away from hitting the market. But when they do, it will still be tough to predict whether news consumers will give up what they’ve been accustomed to for so long — actual paper.