Thursday, August 10, 2006

Your favourite newspaper worldwide

From the newswire I picked up the announcement that NewspaperDirect Inc., the worldwide news-on-demand printer, announced that it has signed an agreement with Beijing Founder Easiprint Co. Ltd. (Founder). The Chinese company will enable, for the first time, foreign newspapers to be printed in the People's Republic of China. The agreement provides Founder with distribution and printing rights throughout China for all NewspaperDirect's hundreds of print-on-demand newspaper titles. Both companies see the agreement as an important step in opening the country to foreign media, especially in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Starting in August 2006, NewspaperDirect and Founder will be providing overseas business people visiting or living in the world's fastest-growing economy with same-day access to their favourite newspapers. Through this agreement, Founder Easiprint's rapidly growing chain of over 200 franchised print shops in China will be authorized to print any of the titles published by NewspaperDirect's publishing partners such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune (USA), The Times, The Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph (UK), Le Monde, Le Figaro (France), Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung (Germany), Neue Zurcher Zeitung (Switzerland), Mainichi Shimbun (Japan), The Globe and Mail and National Post (Canada).

The news item made me wonder what had happened to such Dutch adventure. After some Googling I found the company. It was PEPC Worldwide, a European company based in the Netherlands. This company had developed an interactive Newspaper Kiosk that digitally prints the latest editions of publisher's newspapers on customer's demand. These International Newspaper Kiosks are installed at high traffic international venues such as hotel lobbies, airport concourses and convention centres. I see the same portfolio of newspaper titles popping up in their press releases and interviews as the portfolio of NewspaperDirect. In one of the interviews I also saw the name of Rob Dorpmans, a former colleague. He has been CEO of PEPC Worldwide, when it started to expand.

But I also noticed that PEPC was acquired by a Nevada company and had changed its name into Satellite Newspapers. The company has two products:
-- The Satellite Newspaper KiOSK: an automated free-standing kiosk that enables readers to select and print leading newspapers in the newspaper's original layout within two minutes. KiOSKs are currently found throughout Europe, Asia Pacific, the South Pacific, and the Middle East.
-- The Satellite Newspaper CLiENT: a user-friendly software application that enables users to print the latest edition of international newspapers from their own PC, either one copy at a time or in bulk.

I have always wondered how profitable this business is as it is basically middle-man business. Prices typically ranging from only $2.65 to $6.50 per copy. And newspapers want to have their share of it. In terms of portfolio of titles there is not much distinction as newspaper companies are always willing to experiment and distribute. So it is difficult for the distribution companies to compete on exclusivity. Remains competition in the kiosk points. Getting an agreement with a Chinese company is impressive. But if that company has only 200 distribution points, the business will not be great. Of course selling through hotel chains makes the marketing easy and distinct.


Blog Posting Number: 470

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