Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Is there such a thing as a viable 21st century newsstand?

That's what I was wondering when I read this piece. Boston is great at preserving history... and I wouldn't mind if Out of Town News continued on forever in its current incarnation.

But what would a 21st century newsstand be like? There'd be great coffee, of course, along with gum and candy. Large plasma screens with pay-per-minute Internet access? Cell phone and laptop charging? WiFi, and a few stools to perch on? It's hard to imagine a way to really have the same volume of traffic and activity that Out of Town News once had...

Labels: ,


Blogger jlbrown said...

Call me weird, but I personally enjoy the process of reading a physical magazine or newspaper -- from the tactile sensation of turning the pages to the "pop" of pictures from the pages to the smell of ink on paper. I am going to miss this experience when print gets replaced finally by digits (which seems inevitable).

I also have always liked the social aspect of newsstands: standing there with other "news nerds," sampling the fare, and seeing what other people are buying. So perhaps the 21st century newsstand will become one of those "third places" (after home and work) that certain people prefer, with many of the amenities you mention. This would open up some new opportunities for location-based social networking (online and offline), perhaps. But will there be enough of us news nerds to sustain a business? Don't know.

I could see kiosks that let you automatically create your own personal magazine based on your interests, from the latest news sources. It would beam it to your Kindle (or maybe a special reader you check out from the kiosk with a multimedia screen optimized for the magazine format) or your cellphone or netbook. It would provide interest- and location-specific ads or entertainment listings.

Perhaps there could even be subscription services that would do this automatically, as you pass by the newsstand on your way to the subway every morning -- delivering your magazine to your cellphone or netbook.

Since one can pretty much create one's own magazine today online (by using things like RSS readers, etc.), the appeal of the 21st century newsstand would probably have to be convenience,immediacy, and location-specificity.

This phrase in the Globe article caught my eye:

"It might have been better for the newsstand if Sheldon Cohen had said to Allen, 'Sorry, young man, this magazine is just not for you," and offered him Sports Illustrated instead.'"

Imagine if automated recommendation engines had been around back then, and deduced that Paul Allen would have preferred sports over electronics? Hmmm.

January 1, 2009 11:42 AM  
Blogger eda said...



October 30, 2009 1:46 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home