Newspapers on a Tablet... and Books on the Web

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Yesterday, I bought a subscription to the WSJ Tablet Edition.It was ~$18/month, and includes simultaneous access from three devices (any combination of iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android) and Web access. It includes archives for 7 days offline, and access to the US, Europe and Asia editions. Compared to the $28 I was paying for the local copy of the WSJ Europe, it is a bargain, and means I have it whenever I travel. Further, it integrates sharing articles by email, Facebook and Twitter. While I worried that I will miss my physical paper, especially on the Sabbath when electronic devices are off-limits, the reality is that I generally don't read newspapers on the Sabbath, and last night, while sitting in bed, I read the entire US WSJ on my iPad and loved the experience. So this morning, I cut the cord on my printed paper.

There are definitely shortcomings, and the ads are a little *too* obtrusive, but overall it is a good change.

The biggest problem, though, is the nightmare that managing the subscription has become on the WSJ Web site, I fail to understand how a company that can make a successful Tablet app for both iPad and Android, and a top-rated Web site, still hasn't figured out how to manage accounts. Even worse, it is nearly impossible to find pricing and where to subscribe, and how to compare Table vs. Mobile vs. Print vs. Online vs. packages of two or more of the above. I can only imagine how much better their sales would be if they actually did those things in a sane manner. It is hard to believe that any online business actually would make it difficult for willing consumers to shop and buy.

Of course, perhaps the very fact that there are completely different email addresses and phone numbers for the Tablet Edition subscriptions vs. Online/Print Edition subscriptions is an indication of organizational dysfunction. I have fixed that type of dysfunction in the past as a consultant, would love to do it again, but I think that News Corp. likely has enough on its plate right now that it is unlikely to focus. Pity, it would be fun for me and lucrative for them.

What does this have to do with books on the Web? Stay tuned for part II.