Hearst To Market E-Reader Device To Rescue Mags And Newspapers

This story was written by David Kaplan.
Taking an electronic page from Amazon's playbook, Hearst interactive head Kenneth Bronfin tells Fortune that the publisher plans to launch its own e-reader device sometime this year. He doesn't offer any details about how it would begin to enter the e-reader gadget business, but Bronfin is sure that marketing such devices will be a big part of its business. No word on how this would change Hearst's relationship with other device makers like LibreDigital, which already distributes the publisher's newspapers.

A bigger Kindle: The design goals for the Hearst e-reader calls for a screen that's roughly the same size of a large magazine, as opposed to the Kindle's smaller the six-inch display. Hearst feels that the larger screen will appeal to mag readers who are still unsure about reading on increasingly cramped electronic pages, as well as marketers who are also being forced to shrink their ads to fit tiny devices. Like the Kindle, the Hearst e-reader will feature only black and white. When I spoke with an Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) rep at the Kindle 2.0 launch a few weeks ago, the company feels that the technology for color readers hasn't yet arrived. Still, given the cost of these devicesAmazon's charging about $360 for the Kindle, which would buy a lot of print mag subscriptionsthe prospects for a Hearst e-reader are certainly high, especially as the recession deepens.

By David Kaplan