Slate's Jack Shafer on Digital Editions

Jack Shafer of has a solid analysis of the digital editions produced by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and other American newspapers. His conclusion is that “these electronic editions [are] as comfortable as a fat man trapped in an iron suit designed by a boa constrictor.” I’ve long lamented (here’s a recent example) how printed newspapers must convert from broadsheet to tabloid format and how their digital editions must lose unnecessary bulk. Shafer nicely encapsulates how these problems result in lousy circulation for even the best newspapers’ digital editons:

    … more people attend home games of the [Salisbury, Maryland] Class A Delmarva Shorebirds (3,460) than subscribe to The New York Times e-editions (daily, 3,331; Sunday, 2,780).”

Digital editions show great promise, but not the way that newspaper publishers are using them today.