Tuesday, October 27, 2009

5 ways to save home newspaper delivery

1. Unify distribution
I live in a Townhome complex of fifty units. Every morning the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle delivery vehicles drive through the complex. Many of them are only delivering one paper to one unit. What a waste (and a racket since they all seem to drive cars with the same worn out muffler). If the delivery system supported a simple way for one delivery vehicle to pick up and distribute papers from different organizations, they could save a lot.

2. Unify printing
All of these papers have local print facilities, otherwise the NY Times and the Financial Times would come in the mail, like they used to.

3. Ala Carte delivery
Allow me to mix and match the papers I receive. I often buy the Monday NY Times for Media, the Monday Mercury for Silicon Valley business, the Tuesday NY Times for Science. The Wednesday WSJ for Technology. The Saturday Financial Times for Arts & Living. The Sunday Chronicle for the pink section. Over the years, I have had home delivery subscriptions to each of these papers. Today that would cost a few hundred dollars per month, which is absurd.

4. Integrate Content
Last friday the New York Times launched a San Francisco localized version. The WSJ is planning something similar. Integrated content can't be far behind. You can read NY Times science articles in the following Sunday Mercury News - so why doesn't the NYTimes sell that content to the Merc (and other papers) for immediate delivery. Better read than dead I say.

5. It can't be saved. Like telephone landlines, the consumer base is shrinking to a level that simply can't be served. Have you noticed how many self-service news-stands have been abandoned by their carrier? The machines don't have the mechanical quality to correctly count ten quarters. And who walks around a roll of quarters in their pocket? Soon we will all read newspapers online or on e-readers. I am waiting to see the Plastic Logic Que, with a letter sized form factor.

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