updated 01:15 pm EST, Fri February 27, 2009
Hearst e-book reader
Hearst is in the middle of developing its own e-book reader, claim industry sources cited by Fortune. The publishing monolith is said to be interested in producing a reader mainly as a way of offsetting the costs of ink, printing and delivery, which can no longer be compensated for through ad and subscription revenue. Sources say that the reader will be sold to other publishers, who in turn will have to share revenue from magazines and newspapers crated under the Hearst banner, such as Esquire and the San Francisco Chronicle.
The device itself is expected this year, and unlike rivals such as the Amazon Kindle, should use a large-format display closer in size to a normal 8x10 piece of paper. The intent is to approximate the experience of reading a magazine or newspaper, while providing advertisers with enough space and attention to continue with existing payment models.
The first model will likely debut in black-and-white due to technology limitations, but may transition to color as current prototype displays enter production. Publications are expected to download wirelessly, and the reader may also use a flexible or foldable body, making it more practical for users riding in mass transit systems. Prices and branding will be dependent on publishers, one of the industry sources suggests.