November 29, 2007
Kindle and the New York Times

We got a Kindle at the office to test out and demo. If you haven't heard, the Kindle is a new kind of electronic book made by Amazon. I took it home last night and gave it a try in my normal reading circumstances. To be honest, I was impressed. The Kindle felt good and was easily readable, even in bed. Since the Kindle is not back lit, I did use my reading light, just like I have to when I read a paper book.

This morning, I was eager to see what it was like to read the newspaper on the Kindle. Via it's wireless connection, the Kindle can download the newspaper while you sleep. I told it to subscribe to the New York Times.

I walked outside to get the paper New York Times and brought it inside to compare it to the Kindle Edition New York Times. The first thing I noticed was that the headlines were markedly different for the same story. The first sentence of the story is the same, as is the rest of the article text, but for some reason the headlines are different. I looked at the web version of the same story, and the headline different as well, close to the paper version headline, but not exactly the same. Three different headlines for the same story in three different mediums? Kinda strange if you ask me. Here is the comparison.

Paper NY Times: Lenders Tighten Flow of Credit; Growth at Risk
Kindle NY Times: Lenders' Belt-Tightening Stifles Growth in Economy
Web NY Times: As Lenders Tighten Flow of Credit, Growth at Risk

I guess they have an excess of headline writers these days...

The differences don't stop there. Today is Thursday, my favorite day with the NY Times, since it is the day for Circuits in the Business Section. I enjoy reading the Circuits section a great deal.

The Kindle showed only 5 stories in the Business Day section. When I started to compare, I found that not one of the front page stories on the Business Day paper version was in the Kindle version.

Intrigued, I counted and found that in the paper version, there are 30 articles in Business Day and 5 in Circuits. Of the 5 articles in the Kindle version, 2 were from Business Day and 3 from Circuits.

So let's be clear, the Kindle version is missing 28 of 30 Business Day articles and 2 out of 5 Circuits articles. Not really the electronic version of the traditional NY Times. Maybe they are still getting the kinks out, but it sure is weird. At ~$15/month of the Kindle version, you would expect equivalence to the paper version or the web version at a minimum.

Topping off the strangeness is the choice of articles in the Kindle version. Of the two Business Day articles included, one was a short blurb about some guys promotion that's in a tiny box on the bottom of page C6. While I am happy for Mr. Strangfeld and his promotion at Prudential, I would have greatly preferred to read any of the article from the Front Page of the section instead.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Kindle is fantastic, but the stuff with the NY Times is just plain weird.

Next, I need to figure out how to get books from Project Gutenberg into the Kindle.

Posted by michael at November 29, 2007 07:18 AM


I think that the reason that the headlines are different is due to "due to reliance on search engines for traffic to newspaper archives." I read about this a while back on this Slashodot entry:

Newspaper Headlines Bow To SEO Demands

Posted by: Declan [] on November 29, 2007 3:17 PM

I like the idea of an e-reader, but I have to question the cost.

$399 plus $10 or so per book? Ouch.

When it gets down to $199 I'll look at it again.

Posted by: BillB [] on November 30, 2007 2:50 PM

A long time ago, I used to work at a newspaper on the weather, obituary and stock pages. The headlines come in from the news services like AP and they sometimes need to be changed to fit the column width. Its part of the layout nip and tuck process to get the story onto the page. Sometimes, whole paragraphs are removed or augmented to be made to fit in designated columns.

Posted by: Yoshi [] on November 30, 2007 8:00 PM
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