On Gizmodo, Jamie Condliffe has a report on a 74-slide presentation by Andrew Rushbass, CEO of The Economist Group. The Economist is one of few newspapers that has successfully implemented a paywall, and in the presentation Rushbass talks about how and why the company was able to do it.
What’s more, Rushbass explains that tablet owners are reading more news than before, but reading it in different ways. He calls this the “Lean Back 2.0” paradigm (following the first “Lean Back,” which was paper books, then “Lean Forward”, which was the World Wide Web), and suggests that e-readers and tablets are ushering in a whole new age of reading, whereas the old publishing models of web and print are “irredeemably broken.”
The slide presentation is interesting, though I really wish that Rushbass had written an editorial essay putting the points into more readily readable text form. And Condliffe points out that a lot of the figures Rushbass gives in the presentation aren’t really useful for anything except impressing viewers because they lack sufficient real-world context for comparing them to anything.
That aside: he has a point. Reading from a tablet is more relaxing than reading at a laptop. Amongst those that I know, e-readers probably are having (some, small) measurable effect on the amount people read. These two facts are very positive.
I personally think it’s fascinating not just that people are reading more, but that advocates of one form are still calling other forms “broken” because they don’t do some things as well as the new form. You’d think people would have learned by now, but I suppose advocacy flamewars are eternal.