Doctor: Papers aren't ready for the tablet age

When Ken Doctor recently moved from San Jose, Calif., to the Santa Cruz area, he found that subscribing to the local paper was not exactly the same as actually getting it delivered. An original promise that it would start appearing on his doorstep "around Wednesday" apparently was nonspecific about which particular Wednesday the carrier crew had in mind.

From this experience Doctor wonders: If newspapers are still so bad at print customer service, how are they going to cope in the age of the digital tablet? He argues that for print circulation, papers really only need to know a street address.

For digital platforms, customer identification is a "newly urgent business necessity," especially in an environment in which customers must be tracked across multiple delivery channels:

"As consumers, we're expecting that if we're going to pay a publisher for the privilege of reading their content, we'd better not get nickel-and-dimed along the way. Charge me for the paper, and for the website, and for my iPhone, and for my iPad?

"That's not going to play. Sure, offer me the chance to buy access on one particular device, if that suits my lifestyle, but make sure I’ve got a chance to send you one billpay payment and get what I call 'all-access.' In fact, beyond a single price, I'd like my news provider to know which articles I've read and shared (and with whom) across platforms (old, dumb print excepted, of course)."


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