The printed newspaper, a thing of the past?

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Newspapers seem to be taking hit after hit at the moment as “New Media” is constantly creeping into its traditional core market. A new eBook reader called Kindle has just been released by Amazon in the US which points to the fact that the traditional newspaper’s days are numbered along with the books and magazines.

Print advertising is down billions of dollars every year as companies switch more and more of their advertising mix to the Internet. In the US last year more was spent by employers in recruitment advertising than on print advertising. I’ll bet there are plenty of other traditional print advertising markets that have suffered a similar fate. As an industry with a huge investment in print advertising we have some big changes over the next few years .

We now have Internet only newspapers like the Brisbane Times aimed squarely at Generation Y and thanks to Kindle you can over 250 newspapers and 80,000 books delivered to you for a fraction of the cost of their paper counterparts.

Sony brought us one of the first eBook readers but Kindle has taken it several steps further. Amazon leveraged the Internet to become the world’s largest book store, but as the Internet has evolved they can obviously see the writing on the wall for its book business so it has tried to tackle the problem in a couple of ways. The first was to utilize their excellent shop front software to diversify their product range which means that they sell just about everything now but the kitchen sink. The second was to create its own eBook reader so it leads the digital delivery of books, magazines and newspapers.

Whilst Kindle is not perfect it does seem to have fixed most of the common problems with digital book readers to date. The first problem was the screens were more like a computer screen than a paper. Consumers wanted it to be more like a book than a computer. People got eye strain looking at them for too long, which is obviously a problem if your trying to read something like War and Peace. Another big problem was the delivery of the books. Consumers were bound to their computer to sync and transfer files which limited its effectiveness.

Kindle’s screen looks like the page of a book except for the fact that font sizes can be changed on the fly allowing those with poor eyesight to increase the print size of screen. The screen is not backlit like a computer screen and there is no glare or reflections. In fact if you reading it in a dark room you will need a light on just like a real book.

Books, Newspapers and Magazines are delivered in just one minute across an always on wireless broadband connection that is included at no cost and the unit will store over 200 books before you need to install an additional memory card. This means your newspapers are ready to read the moment you wake up in the morning and as soon as you finish reading one book, you can browse for others in the online book shop and be reading a replacement all in just a few minutes.

The interesting part is that ads are not a feature of the system. You get the newspaper articles and the magazine articles only. You can get Time Magazine for $1.49 and a months supply of the Wall Street Journal for $9.99. And you get free access to Wikipedia Encyclopaedia, leading blogs and a stack of other features too long to list here.

Is it perfect ? Not by a long shot but version 2 and 3 will only improve it I am sure. Being grayscale only for the moment some magazine articles with colour graphics just don’t work properly (maybe that’s why Time is only $1.49 per month). But where do you get one…. Well, quite simply you can’t, not right now at least. They are sold out and its on back order at $US399 each just like the launch of some other favourites before it, the iPod and the iPhone. And just like these, Kindle is all white.

Gutenburg brought us the printing press around 1430 but if Kindle and others can transform newspapers, books and magazines into a “New Media” as quick as the iPod has changed the music scene since its launch in 2001 then the shape of real estate advertising is going to be even more Internet centric than it is now.

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  • Peter Ricci
    Posted November 24, 2007 at 12:06 am 0Likes

    Welcome Glenn and thanks for such a great introduction article.

  • Andy
    Posted November 24, 2007 at 4:59 pm 0Likes


    I have read your article with interest and there is a lot in what you state. I do not disagree that online is building fast and in the US it has been at the expense of the printed media. However, when one is able to run online and offline together (portal and print) it delivers far better results for the advertiser. This has been done extremely successfully by a Belgian publisher who see revenues ebbing away to his online competitors. You refer to Generation Y as being the main beneficiary but what we oft forget is that the other generations are still friends of print and will use print as much as they us online. Many do not want to have their morning coffee logged onto their computer to read the news; it is thought that usage of the internet is somewhat unsocial at the breakfast hour! I believe, and I am no expert, that there will always be print. For real estate agents across the globe, it works hand in hand with online. An online offering has to be promoted and print provides the best route to do so. We only have to look at our printed offerings in Australia to see this – promoted by News Ltd papers, promoted by Fairfax papers and in some regions promoted by realestateworld papers/publications. Print I believe will always have a branding and listing and continued sales purpose for the real estate market. Isolated print with no online partner will be the one to suffer as competition continues to intensify. The other thing I think is important to note is that while mobile phones can now provide images and content, the consumer is such that they will always look to print as support, as a trusted method of telling them who has the market share and who they should contact when selling their property.

    It also, for the agent, must come down to the price of all the offerings. Agents have limited spend and to be continually asked to pay more for print as prices are increased by the major publishers to maximise returns – and asked to pay more for online offerings in general, there has to be a limit to what they are able and indeed prepared to spend. Ultimately, in any region, in any country, where print has been successful for so long, it would be risky strategy for an agent to drop print entirely and move to the web if their fellow agents did not. It is about coverage and value for money for print – if it is cost effective and of high enough quality and delivers the numbers in circulation, then it provides an effective partner to online activity. It is only when print becomes increasingly expensive that it becomes its own worst enemy where real estate agents are concerned. Then it has to face the fact that the agents will migrate their spend to the web as print has priced itself out of the market. It is up to the publishers to make sure that they reduce prices not increase them in relation to the quality and circulation of the print publications they provide. Any potential vendor or buyer simply looks for the publication which they can afford to advertise in and that provides the quality and circulation – loyalty is not a factor for print like it is not a factor for the online real estate sites either. It is going the be interesting!

  • Glenn
    Posted November 24, 2007 at 6:51 pm 0Likes


    Thanks for your comment. Print will certainly be a valuable inclusion in any marketing strategy for a little while yet but I think its days are numbered in the long term. I totally believe that the reason that the old media companies got on board with the new media companies was because of financial concerns rather than the fact that print fits nicely with online.

    The reason that they appear hand in hand is because print is on the way down and online is on the way up and neither is the major player so we all currently need to continue both marketing options to offer clients the best exposure.. But my point is… how long will this be for? REA became number 1 long before their print campaign in News Ltd publications.

    You mentioned that consumers will not want to connect to their computer in the morning to read the newspaper. I must not have made myself clear because that is exactly what Kindle has overcome and what held the previous options back. It has a wireless broadband BUILT INTO the unit… for free (its costed into the purchase price of the books/mags I am sure.. but essentially it is free)… so you dont need a computer at any stage. Your newspaper is downloaded as soon as it available while you sleep.. When you wake you can read it without ever getting out of bed let alone going anywhere near your computer.


  • Lara
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 9:00 am 0Likes

    There will always be a market for print and to a lesser extent newspapers – on a global scale at the very least; the kindle will have to be very light-weight and have huge buttons for the elderly and infirm to convert.
    Convenience is relative.
    In 1996, Jeff Bezos and Barnes & Noble saw the end of the bookstore on the horizon. And what a surprise! Their offline competitors and counterparts got bigger and they became more specialised – who knew?
    Furniture stores opened up all over the world online, but it hasn’t stopped Ikea or Knoll from strengthening their high street presence.
    Music may be the excpetion to the rule and media may follow, but I doubt it in the next 100 years. Firstly, there’s too much invested in real estate and production to close down the jewel case manufacturing plants or printing presses just yet and secondly, the market still demands a much larger interface to communicate, whether it’s a natural disaster half way around the world or the half yearly sale at David Jones. You only have to look at how big Domain’s mid-week offering has become to understand that newspapers are far from croaking.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 10:21 am 0Likes


    I had to chuckle when I read your website after reading your comments.

    iVisual is a company that replaces printed window cards with a digital equivalent and your website proudly quotes:

    Now is the time to take advantage of technological advancement. In only a couple of years real estate display systems will be the norm and a paper display system will be a thing of the past.


    iVisual will save you money, time and resources.

    Is that like having your cake and eating it too 🙂

    I agree that print itself will never die… but printed newspapers and magazines is a different story and may not be quite so resilient. If Kindle and its followers take off the readership in printed newspapers will decline dramatically. Reduced readership reduces potential advertising revenue and eventually economic pressure would have to come to bear. Newspapers are already under pressure from online, and this will just be the nail in the coffin and is exactly why old media companies are investing in new media solutions. I cant tell you when this will happen as it will primarily depend upon technology (ie. Kindle is not the answer yet) but I personally believe it will happen, and sooner rather than later.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 10:58 am 0Likes

    Always an interesting debate although I suspect that traditional media for some companies continue to exceed expectations and budgets for that matter. Over at Fairfax Media their real estate print platforms are all very much in the black with increased market share.

    Obviously there will come a time because over time everything changes. I believe the next transition period will see a marination of print and online. Further down the track is anyones guess what the new media platforms will be although it would be reasonable to suggest that the days of paying to display properties on a portal are numbered. Initially, they were established as an interim media platform for real estate when respective markets commenced embracing the Internet as a serious contender to explore emerging electronic markets.

    I see successful print media as having greater longevity than paid property portals unless they start seriously re-inventing themselves.

  • snoop
    Posted November 27, 2007 at 1:11 pm 0Likes

    Well I read Domain on the throne!!
    Not ideal taking the pc in there.
    So yes they still have a future.

  • snoop
    Posted December 12, 2007 at 8:37 am 0Likes

    Fin Review dec 12 has a very interesting article today.
    Macquarie research on the industry shows 40% of enquiries are now generated electronicly against 27% from print.
    They go on to say the evolution of the industry going fwd will see Superoffices which have more staff at each site.
    Interested in the panels view on this one.
    They also say 65% of agents earn less than 100k pa which means under 30% are the real revenue generators.
    Agents derive 67% from sales and 29% from prop mgmt.
    Also comment the Owners take the lions share and this needs to change.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted December 23, 2007 at 11:14 pm 0Likes

    Have a guess what year these two stats represent… 2004, 2008 or 2012?

    Theses results were from 2004, and the study was the Generational Media Study of the Online Publishers Associations.

    and a great quote I heard recently.


    So whilst plenty of people are like Snoop and read their paper on the throne, not too many of them are under 34 it seems.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted December 23, 2007 at 11:18 pm 0Likes

    hmm that did not come out right.. I guess the blockquote was not what I thought it was.. Peter, can you check that out and fix my post if you can removing this comment, or if not remove them both and I will repost and not use the blockquote tags..

  • Brennan
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 1:17 am 0Likes

    Grant you just made yourself something to do with it,

  • Cullen
    Posted November 28, 2008 at 6:30 am 0Likes

    Tammy, You have a lovely site with so many wonderful accolades.,

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