Even Hal Varian can get something wrong once in a while, and he is wrong on this one. Newspapers are following the route of Magazines; they had simply gotten too expensive. Since the time of the Penny Dreadfuls, publishers have had to recognize that their Reading Public have to feel that they are getting a good deal in order to develop a loyalty for the published Product; something which should be a Warning to the Kindle and ipad. No one today estimates they are getting a good deal on anything published, and Bookstores are beginning to close. I know something of the total debacle, simply because I am a failed author basically because of poor pricing of my materials (it obviously could have nothing to do with the Content!).
I would, if I were a publisher, bring back the Serial format within a Sunday Magazine design; with News interspersed with serialized Stories–Advertising finding place at Side columns around the concentrated normal Page size of the Content. The Stories–novelettes would be the best choice–would require a Week’s purchase or more to be read; the later staggered to always present a loss to the Reader of the rest of the Story. Advertising should be sold only on a Week by Week basis, unless the Advertiser would want Month by Month. The Price on the tabloid should never cost more than the price of a competitive Paperback per Month during the same period of publishing, and there should be enough News items with the tabloid to replace a conventional Newspaper. The Market should be saturated–perhaps even bringing back Paper Boys within high traffic areas, and the Tabloid should develop the belief within the Reading Public that Special Editions will be published for special News events, and granted Free to Subscribers.
The entire Concept could work effectively, or fall on its face. Special Market research should be directed at the serialized Stories to examine the exact length of Time devoted to each Story; I believe these Stories should have effective Chapters which do not extend beyond the normal Reading time of a Coffee Break for most people, and News should have a short plot of five paragraphs or less; immediately followed by a Story lead-in. The Magazine format should not be long, consistent with my belief that people will not touch anything resembling a book within a normal Workday, but will grab a Magazine to read during Coffee Break or Lunch; carrying it along with them to read when they have further time. Magazine racks therefore should be a high Seller, and the serialized nature of the Stories will incite Purchase and Saving the materials for repetitive reading. It will float, or it will not, but the format will be something still carried under an arm; and turned to at any opportune moment, unlike the weight and Price of the new electronics. lgl