First paper-less daily newspaper

De Tijd newspaper of Antwerp, Belgium, will soon become the world’s first newspaper to publish a digital version on ‘electronic paper’ which is automatically updated during the day.

From a report in Tech M&C:

[…] Instead of buying your daily paper, from April 2006, 200 subscribers will be able to start the day by connecting a portable electronic device supplied by De Tijd to the internet and start downloading their daily paper. Updates will be automatic during the day, if subscribers have access to wireless technology.

The electronic newspaper costs an astronomical 400 euros – but those who sign up for the experiment are not being charged. The assumption is, however, that costs will come down when the electronic daily goes into mass production.

‘If the testing period proves successful, we will draw up a business model based on the analysis,’ the project manager Peter Bruynseels told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Media experts at Belgian universities will then analyze readers’ evaluations.

The Belgian experiment reflects the newspaper’s fight for survival in a world of increasing competition, declining circulation and rising newsprint costs.

The article say that Dutch company iRex Technologies, a Philips spinoff, is building the portable reading device which uses display technology developed by E Ink Corporation, an MIT spinoff.

So the notion of reading your newspaper wholly on a screen is becoming closer to general reality. As someone who rarely reads hard copies and just about everything online, I think this is terrific!

Think of the advertising opportunities. And think of the interactivity opportunities – if you, the reader, can interact with the information you see in your reading device rather than just passively receive it, then this development becomes extremely interesting.

And that’s precisely what’s in store for De Tijd readers in this trial:

[…] Using a special marker, readers can write comments on articles and scribble their notes on the screen.

In addition, touching an interactive advertisement will direct the reader to the advertiser’s website.

De Tijd is also thinking about publishing advertisement corresponding to the time of the day, Bruynseels said. Coffee and cereals in the morning, beer and snacks in the evening.

Other tools include extra buttons for financial news which steer a reader to in-depth information on the latest stock exchange rates. The e-paper also memorizes readers’ criteria when searching for a job, an apartment or Mr/Ms Perfect.

(via Megite)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Serge

    Yep, for once, those ‘petits Belges’ are ahead of the rest of the world (well, sort of at least). Personally, I still like a paper paper (reading on a screen is a lot more tiresome if you ask me and I have to do that enough already), but I must admit I am veeeeery curious to see the first electro-version of De Tijd. And you are right, Neville: opportunities are humongous. I wonder, though, if this kind of newspaper will also be so handy to wrap fish and chips in :-D ?

  2. neville

    I bet there’ll soon be e-fish-n-chips on screen, Serge, solve the problem quite well…

    It’s a very interesting experiment. Connect it with other discussions going on re newspapers and RSS, such as a good commentary from Steve Rubel last week –

    Key point in Steve’s post: “Flash forward 10 years from today. We will look back and laugh how quaint it was that we received our news on dead trees. Yes, I am saying the word “newspaper” will be a misnomer. News will be delivered automatically each day, not by the paper boy, but via wirelessly enabled e-paper devices that are easy to read. All of it will be powered by RSS.”

    May be sooner than 10 years.

  3. Richard Bellaver

    Reading from a hand held device is not so crazy. I have done several studies on students from the first grade to Graduate School. (Search Google = eBooks Bellaver.) I hope to work with iRex in loading a whole semester’s curricula for the 3rd grade. My goal is to eliminate the back pack for K-12 students.

  4. neville

    I agree, Richard, not so crazy at all. Your project sounds pretty interesting too.

    I do most of my reading on a computer screen, a desktop or a laptop. Unwieldy and far from ideal. The Belgian newspaper experiment is using devices that are pretty big and unwieldy, too (see the complete article at Tech M&C).

    But we will see really portable and hold-able devices. It’s just a matter of time.

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