Friday, September 14, 2007

Les Echos first with proposal commercial digital paper daily

Les Echos, the French sister publication of the Financial Times of the Pearson company, has launched its daily on two e-readers officially. The newspaper had been advertising the service and promoting the e-readers for some months now. Les Echos claims to be the first commercial daily worldwide with this service.

Les Echos has chosen to offer two e-readers: STAReBOOK and the iLiad. Both products are based on the E-Ink digital paper technology. STAReBOOK is developed in China and the iLiad has been developed by iRex Technologies, a spin-out of Philips in the Netherlands. The difference between the two digital paper readers is that the iLiad has a Wi-Fi facility on board and STAReBOOK does not.

Les Echos has had a pdf internet service for a long time. It is now adding the e-reader service. It has experimented with 200 units in the past months and developing its own presentation software. A movie with French, English and Chinese (!) spoken text shows the newspaper as it works on the iLiad. First thing you will notice is the screen is great, but that the e-reader has a long start-up time and the long download time.

Les echos has a video showing how Les Echos has solved the interface to the e-paper differently from the experimental interface of the Belgian financial daily De Tijd. The e-paper of Les Echos is not the WSYWIG lay-out of the printed newspaper. The first screen is a series of headlines and short leads of the frontpage stories, while next to this column the editorial commentary is and a graph of the stock exchange. One can go also to the menu and make a choice of stories and categories and a company can be found in the company register. The interface of Les Echos is different from the experimental interface done by De Tijd in Belgium. That newspaper had a WYSIWIG lay-out of the printed news, which meant that the reader would scan the pages. Once an article was seen, the reader could tick on it with the stylus and call the article up for presentation in legible form.

The subscription to Les Echos also comprises a news stories’ stream by the French news agency AFP. AFP has a separate starting point from Les Echos. The offers for STAReBOOK and iRex also contain electronic books from two French book publishers. STAReBOOK has access to e-books from Flammarion, while the iLiad subscriber has access to the books of Nathan.

The business model of the e-readers is similar to the newspaper. You pay an annual subscription to receive the news (not the newspaper) electronically. The present offers include an e-reader: 649 euro for the STAReBook plus 1 year subscription and 749 euro for the iLiad. Given the fact that the iLiad costs 649 euro without any subscription, Les Echos is prepared to market the e-reader for iRex Technologies, as an e paper subscription normally costs 365 euro. Most like the e-reader manufacturers and the e-paper publisher have split the costs. In the second year the reader will pay 365 euro as they would do for the pdf edition.

Blog Posting Number: 867

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