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

The Boston Globe’s faster horse

Henry Ford is often credited as saying, “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” Maybe he said it, maybe he didn’t. But I cite it in order to let you know that, this week, the Boston Globe unveiled a faster horse — the ePaper, a digital version of the Globe that looks just like the print edition.

On my laptop, the ePaper looks pretty much like replica editions I’ve tried for a number of other papers, including the Boston Herald, the Providence Journal and the New Haven Register. As these things go, the Globe ePaper is well-implemented. Just click on a headline and the story comes up. As with some other replica editions I’ve seen, it will read the stories to you in a slow, robotic voice. Unless you are visually impaired, you won’t want to do much with that.

But it’s the iOS version that I found to be a bit of an eye-opener. You would never think a full-size newspaper could be adapted to the small iPhone screen, but the Globe has somehow managed to make it usable. It was even better on Mrs. Media Nation’s iPad. Also with the iOS version, the entire paper automatically downloads to your device, so you can take it with you and read it in places where you don’t have Internet connectivity.

Also smart: You can buy a single edition through the iTunes Store for 99 cents.

Personally, I don’t picture using the ePaper often — I’d rather read But as someone who has severed ties with the print edition except on Sundays, I’m sure there will be times when I find myself calling up the ePaper. For instance, I may want to see how a particular story was played, or whether the print headline differed from the online headline. Or there may be a can’t-miss political ad.

For the most part, though, I’d rather drive a car than ride a horse. Even a faster one.

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  1. Laurence Kranich

    Every time I read the print edition after looking online, I find something I missed because of a great picture, placement on a section front page, a big headline…all the newspaper elements that alert you to something worthwhile.

    And every time I read the Globe online, I always click on some worthless two sentence stories because online, the headlines all look the same.

    Now I can finally read the Globe as the editors want me to see it, on my iPad. It took them long enough, but between and the ePaper they have finally got it right.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Laurence: The only thing I miss about print is that the organizational scheme of a newspaper is far superior to that of anything online. I find that, online, the reading is easier, the pictures look better, but figuring out what’s important is harder.

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