By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Times Reader 2.0 is a big step up

I’m trying out the new Times Reader software. It’s based on the Adobe Air platform, so there are no longer separate Windows and Mac versions. I was ambivalent about the previous version, but Times Reader 2.0 is faster and more attractive.

The new version abandons the Times print-edition font — too fussy for the computer screen — with what appears to be Cambria, an excellent choice. Photos are better integrated. Videos are part of the mix. Scrolling is smoother. You can even do the crossword puzzle on your computer — something you were supposed to be able to do on the previous version, though I couldn’t get it to work on my Mac.

The questions remain: Where does this fit in the hierarchy of news products the Times offers, and does it point the way for other papers? Times Reader costs $3.45 a week. It’s definitely a faster, smoother read than the regular, free Web edition, and, once you’ve downloaded the paper, you don’t need a WiFi connection to read it.

But free is free. In addition, the Times Web edition is a livelier place, with more ads (perhaps that will change as Times Reader gains in acceptance), blogs and other extra content. In addition, if you’re a blogger and you want to post something you see in Times Reader, you have to leave, access the Web edition and find the story again in order to grab the URL.

On the other hand, Times Reader really does offer a superior online reading experience. You’re more likely actually to read the paper rather than just skip around. And it’s a lot cheaper (we get the Sunday print edition delivered, so there’s no extra charge for us) — not to mention more environmentally friendly — than the print edition.

Might there come a day when the Times and other papers can dump their print editions and instead offer various paid electronic versions via Times Reader, the Kindle and the like? I don’t know. But I do know that Times Reader 2.0 is a huge improvement over its predecessor.

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  1. rozzie02131

    If the Globe did this, I’d buy it in a second. It wouldn’t make them any extra money because I already buy their electronic edition, but it fixes the biggest problem of these replica editions: trying to fit a long rectangular news page into a wide rectangular computer screen. The other thing newspapers need to do is to create a broad-based consortium from their subscription services so if you pay one price you get access to all. This consortium already exists in the newspaper replica world, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to transfer into a Times Reader/Globe Reader/WaPo Reader/Guardian Reader world.

  2. Peter Porcupine

    Dk – the trees aren’t just flowering and turning green because it’s spring. They’re happy!In the future, I really see paid Kindle as newsprint. Esp. when the new, larger Kindle comes out.There may be Kindle-only exclusives, etc., and capacity to print Kindle editions as Adobe quality pages. Stories, columns, etc. may be the iPod downloads of the future.When iPod began, the mantra was – there’s radio – for free! By reaching a reasonalbe price point, iPod triumphed.You may be looking at the salvation of the journalism business.

  3. Bill Toscano

    Dan: No content difference at all?I think this and the bigger Kindle are good things.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Bill: I’d have to grab a print edition and do a page-by-page comparison. But certainly the goal is for there to be no difference.

  5. Esther

    Ugh. I hate the whole idea of the Kindle.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Esther: Ha, ha! Well, some people hate cockroaches, too. What bothers you about the Kindle so much?

  7. Jeff

    I’m just trying the Times Reader 2.0 out for the first time. I Really like it! I would definitely pay more than the $3.45 / week asking price for the Globe edition of this. I don’t subscribe to the Globe because I really don’t want pounds of paper delivered to my doorstep each week when I can read the Globe online or pick up a shared copy at my local cafe. I’m hoping the Times Reader 2.0 is a glimpse of the new Times and Boston Globe.-Jeff

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