The Hearst Corporation, which publishes magazines ranging from Cosmopolitan to Esquire and several financially troubled newspapers, has apparently developed a wireless e-reader with a large-format screen suited to the reading and advertising requirements of newspapers and magazines. The device and underlying technology, which other publishers will be allowed to adapt, is likely to debut this year. "I can't tell you the details of what we are doing, but I can say we are keenly interested in this, and expect these devices will be a big part of our future," Hearst Exec Kenneth Bronfin told Fortune Magazine in a recent interview.
With print revenue in decline and online revenue unable to fill the gap, the $300 billion global publishing industry is increasingly looking to devices like e-readers to lower costs while preserving the business model that has sustained newspapers and magazines. Downloading content from participating newspapers and magazines will occur wirelessly. For durability, the device is likely to have a flexible core, perhaps even foldable, rather than the brittle glass substrates used in readers on the market today.
Does this mean that Hearst is getting into the retail device business? Money Magazine says no following with: "What Hearst and its partners plan to do is sell the e-readers to publishers and to take a cut of the revenue derived from selling magazines and newspapers on these devices. The company will, however, leave it to the publishers to develop their own branding and payment models."