Will iPad, mobile raise newspapers, or bury them?

The print industry took a pretty good hit this week.

First, The Reynolds Journalism Institute released a survey of iPad owners which found that users are more likely to

Is this the face of a (print) killer?

drop their print subscriptions in favor of getting news off the device.

Then,  eMarketer releases a survey that finds people are spending as much time on mobile devices as they are reading

If you’re a publisher, you’re probably yelling at the technology gods for bringing this curse upon the kingdom, then ordering the IT minions to create an iPad app of your website to appease the masses.

But if you’re more savvy, you’re reading into these surveys and seeing why people are attracted to mobile devices (iPad included) and steering away from print.  While current news apps on iPad, for the most part, reflect what you can find on other platforms (basically a recreation of the news organization’s web site or print product), you are finding these early adopters not accepting the way the content is presented, but the new technology itself.

This is because the iPad and mobile devices provide the user with an experience that is different from print. Newspaper reading was an experience to the reader — an experience that could not be copied by sitting in front of a computer screen in earlier forms. The iPad — and tablets in general — provide an experience that fits with newspapers but expands the sensory experience and gratification of the user.

So the print industry can continue to growl and look to charge for its content. Or it can look at how readers are absorbing the content, and create a product that provides the reader with an experience he is willing to pay for. We’re seeing dribs and drabs of this, from Sports Illustrated’s interactive prototype iPad app to Richard Branson’s sleek, multisensory “Project” magazine.  They’re taking news consumption to a new level, both in what they have to offer and how they deliver it to their readers.

If the print industry is to survive, they need to take the experience to that next level as well. And they can’t wait for someone else to come up with it, because the readers are already there.

Your readers won’t wait for you if someone else shows up first.

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