Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Clever Germanic Races point way to future (if any) of newspapers : the A4 micro size

A newspaper the size of a magazine !
Don't you just hate jumped-up newspaper chain owners who insist on their newspaper spreads sprawling to 3 feet by 2 feet, to compensate for their "weiners" being, er,  very much smaller than that ?

This newspaper spread, the so called quality "broadsheet", is emblematic of the oversized egos of the super-rich, who insist that their newspapers must be B.I.G. to show that their readers are somebodies who require a lot of space, to read and reflect on the news.

But most people who hang a strap in a subway actually read a tabloid-sized newspaper - roughly half the size of a broadsheet : now a spread of only  1.5 feet by 2 feet , it is still much too big to read on a crowded train or bus.

Best is the A4 Micro newspapers common in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and their surrounding neighbours : a quarter the size of the broadsheet, they are a spread of one foot by one and a half feet.

Each page is ever so slightly bigger than an ordinary-sized  sheet of letter paper in the North American (non-metric) dinosaur world of paper.

But, you sputter, "that is just a magazine or newsletter by another name !"

Yes it is : and that it why it is so successful as a magazine format size, all throughout history and in every nation in the world.

It fits the hand well and the eye well - a pleasure to hold and read and a size that allows the design of each "spread" to be taken in at a glance and as a whole : print designers love it !

It would be equally successful as a daily newspaper, but for their publishers' well-founded fear that readers might stop regarding daily newspapers and their billionaire owners as demi-gods if their offering was the same size as every Tom, Dick & Harry's magazine or newsletter.

The biggest attraction to retaining the broadsheet size is that it severely limits potential competitors to just the super rich.

The  press to print a broadsheet costs tens of millions to hundreds of millions of dollars : to make a4 newspapers only costs about $250 at the minimum (aka the Tabloid sized inkjet computer printer) .

As a heavy duty newsprint webpress for small runs of a few thousand copies a day, the prices - if the format became popular - would probably be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to a million dollar range.

That is scary thought for billionaires like Rupert Murdoch who has relied, for a lifetime,  on the high entry costs to owning a big iron broadsheet press (rather that the non-existence "quality" of his junky-fakey newspaper columns) to keep potential competitors at bay...

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