New tool may change your reading habits

March 9, 2009 7:07:05 PM PDT
So with the San Francisco Chronicle in trouble along with so many other newspapers, what does the future hold for print journalism?

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In Mountain View, proof that in this economy, Atlas has not yet shrugged. But Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the printing press, may be rolling over in his grave.

A company called Plastic Logic is developing its version of the next big thing. Goodbye paper, forget about ink. They call this tablet an 'e-reader.' It can hold thousands of pages of searchable documents, or books, or magazines or your newspaper.

"You would have it in your house. It would be set to download the newspaper from like midnight till 2:00 a.m. It would match every download and when you sit down to your morning coffee, you have your newspaper," said Joe Eschbach from Plastic Logic.

One of the advantages to this device is that it looks better in broad daylight than a computer. In sunny conditions, sometimes computer appears dim, but because the e-reader's screen reflects, it looks clear.

The screen is made of flexible plastic stamped with electronically charged particles. One version of this device looks more like a piece of paper than a tablet.

For newspapers, especially, the technology offers hope, because half their cost of production goes to printing and paper.

Dave Smith consults advertisers about buying in digital media. He sees a future in which readers would pay for electronic subscriptions, one in which struggling newspapers might even survive.

There is a new generation that comes along and they don't even read the newspaper. So it could bring newspapers and bring them back," said Smith.

Until then, it's a matter of market saturation. Plastic Logic plans to release the e-reader next year. The estimated price ranges between $300 and $800.

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