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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Newsstands Can Still Compete With Murdoch's The Daily, For Now

Susan Shimotsu |
February 9, 2011 | 12:05 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Robertson Bookstore in Los Angeles (Susan Shimotsu/Neon Tommy)
Robertson Bookstore in Los Angeles (Susan Shimotsu/Neon Tommy)

A week into the highly anticipated debut of The Daily, News Corp’s first iPad-only newspaper, most pundits agree that the virtual media app is unique for its business model and not necessarily for its journalistic content.

But what does this mean for businesses back in the real world?

While the drastic decline in newspaper circulation has been heavily publicized with the rise of free information on the Internet, newsstands have been quietly disappearing. Often open-air and locally-owned, it would seem these age-old establishments would be quick to voluntarily close their doors before circumstances forced them to shut down.

However, one newsstand in Los Angeles is determined to continue business without much regard for new competition from The Daily.

“People say that 100 million people are using the Internet, but I don’t believe them because people are still buying magazines here at my newsstand,” said one cashier at Robertson Bookstore, Inc., who declined to give his name. “If there are 300 million people in America and only 100 million have Internet, what about the other 200 million?”

The next statistic to throw out is that only 15 million iPads were shipped in their first nine months on the market. Even iPad users trying out The Daily are not exactly proclaiming the death of the newsstand, despite rave reviews of the app. 

“Until the iPad is affordable for everyone I still believe that newsstands will provide the normal person with the news,” said Scott Barrus, 27, of Austin, Texas. “But I believe this is a watershed moment of sorts. If other media companies were to use The Daily's template, it would be very hard not to say the newsstand is gone.”

The template Barrus refers to is actually very newspaper-like. While the stories are no different structurally than what would be found in another daily, they are packaged together with multimedia and social networking features.

The Daily has been hyped up for a while now but it really impresses,” he said, adding that he plans to purchase the $39.99 yearlong subscription. “Every time you open The Daily the news is ‘delivered,’ which takes about three to five minutes so you know you are getting the most recent or relevant news. The quality of the content is superb with very good writers.”

In the meantime, people without iPads and The Daily will continue to be the target audience of newsstands like Robertson Bookstore. 

“We have focus everywhere [referring to magazines and newspapers] and we want to sell whatever we have,” the employee said. “People who like to read the newspaper in hand have the newspaper in hand.”

After the two-week trial period ends, The Daily will be available for subscription at 99 cents per week or $39.99 per year. 

To reach reporter Susan Shimotsu, click here.

Follow her on Twitter: @susanfromtx.



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