Residents of the Hub have a new way to read their hometown newspaper. The Boston Globe’s e-paper app offers readers a digital replica that any print subscriber can access for free.
Newsstand integration offers readers convenience. Users running iOS 5 can have the daily paper on their device by 5 a.m. As long as push notifications and auto-downloading are enabled, the daily paper will be ready to read as soon as the user opens Newsstand.
The Boston Globe’s digital replica, created by NewspaperDirect, also goes to great lengths to recreate the experience of reading a traditional paper, while also integrating intriguing features such as text-to-speech.
The text-to speech options have been, “A high point of interest for people,” said Damon Kiesow, senior product manager at the Boston Globe and Boston.com. Readers are curious about text-to-speech, peppering Kiesow with questions during group demos such as, “Can I plug this into my car radio and listen to it on my way in to work?” Text-to-speech works in offline mode, so readers can listen to the Globe’s stories in settings where staring at a screen isn’t feasible even if they don’t have a Wi-Fi or cellular connection at that moment.
Going forward, the Globe wants to know how and where their subscribers use this enhanced feature. “We’re really looking for feedback from customers to see how they like it, where they use it, and how valuable it is to them,” said Kiesow.
Even if you just want to read the paper as folks always have, the e-paper app offers readers choice and flexibility. Kiesow explains, “There are three different modes of viewing. One is the pageview where you see PDF replicas of the page with the headlines highlighted to indicate that they are hyperlinked. From there you get either a smartflow view or a straight text view. The SmartFlow view is much more of a designed experienced. It’s more swipeable, so you can swipe from story to story to story.”
Access to the e-paper is reserved for subscribers, or those who’ve clicked through via a URL on a social media site or in an email. Kiesow explains, “If you come in from a social media feed like Facebook or Twitter you will get that story. Otherwise you will hit a request to log in or subscribe.”
Readers can view the paper on their small screen device to scan headlines while commuting on the subway, or settle in for more a more in-depth read on the iPad. There are so many different ways to access the same information, that Globe is hoping readers spend more time with the paper than in the past.
Kiesow quips that the new app, “fills a need that I didn’t even know I had.” The promise to fill any number of unstated needs sums up the allure of personal tech. Newsstand’s success lies in its ability for users to customize their reading experience to their own level of engagement rather than adapting how they read to the way the information is presented.
While iPad users in particular have embraced Newsstand, Kiesow is pragmatic about Apple’s native newspaper and magazine subscription organizer, “Newsstand gets around one of the major problems of newspaper and magazine apps — that download issue, that delivery problem. How do you get people engaged with the publication if they have to manually hit download? Having Newsstand solves that delivery problem for us.”
Kiesow hopes the digital replica will compliment, rather than replace the traditional print version of the paper. “Take bostonglobe.com as your core experience for content for digital users.” The website is designed to function well on any platform. According to Kiesow, the Globe wants to explore the other experiences they can bring to digital readers “that will compliment that bostonglobe.com experience and also compliment the print newspaper experience. The e-paper fits in with the other products that we have and will launch in the future.” For example, the e-paper edition is discrete; it replicates the order of the print edition, while the online edition is updated constantly.
The e-paper includes the usual social media sharing options (Facebook, Twitter, email), but readers can also share an opinion by tapping a thumbs up or thumbs down button at the end of a piece. The e-paper’s social sharing options may change as the Globe sees which their readers use the most. This inherent flexibility will certainly please newspaper readers.
These new options have the potential to increase the Boston Globe’s readership, since one no longer needs to be near a traditional news stand or reside in the paper’s delivery market to read the paper regularly with ease.
“The Boston Globe ePaper allows us to put the actual newspaper into the hands of readers who prefer the print version of the Globe, but may be traveling, or live outside of our delivery area, or perhaps just prefer to read their newspaper on a tablet,” said Christopher M. Mayer, publisher of The Boston Globe. “It further broadens the Globe’s digital portfolio and complements our other digital content offerings, including the web site BostonGlobe.com, the GlobeReader, Boston.com and our mobile apps.”
Interested readers can download this universal app for free from the App Store. Digital monthly subscriptions cost $14.99 per month, and readers can also purchase a daily paper a la carte for $0.99.