Posted January 3, 2011 8:25 am by with 4 comments

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When I worked in Manhattan about 3 or 4 lifetimes ago I used to love stopping at looking at what was offered at a newsstand. Magazines about just about everything and every daily newspaper that great city had to offer. Just scanning the contents could give you an overview of what was going on in the entire world through headlines. In a way, it was the content portal of its time (this was pre commercial Internet remember, back when we used smoke signals to get by).

Well, I haven’t had that experience in a long time and honestly, the online news experience has virtually no visceral quality so it’s just not the same at all.

I’m not here to wax nostalgic though. In an attempt to possibly recreate my NYC newsstand experience (without the weather, the people and the smells) Google is looking to put together something for publishers on its Android platform. This is probably more about beating Apple than re-creating the Big Apple newsstand but I’ll take it.

The Wall Street Journal reports

Google is trying to drum up publishers’ support for a new Google-operated digital newsstand for users of devices that run its Android software. With the effort, it is chasing Apple, which already sells digital versions of many major magazines and newspapers through its iTunes store.

The e-newsstand would include apps from media companies offering versions of their publications for smartphones or tablets running Android, say people familiar with the matter. Google hopes to launch it in part to provide a more consistent experience for consumers who want to read periodicals on Android devices, and to help publishers collect payment for their apps, these people say.

While the idea of it sounds very interesting there is a real chance that the project may not ever see the light of day. In this day and age it looks like the prospect of trying to put something together on the DL is no longer possible so we’ll talk about this maybe, kinda, sorta prospect.

The Journal continues

Inside Google, the e-newsstand initiative is being spearheaded by Stephanie Tilenius, its vice president of e-commerce, according to two people familiar with the matter.

“We’ve consistently said we’re talking with publishers about ways we can work together, including whether we can help them with technology for subscription services. We have nothing specific to announce at this time,” Google said in a statement.

The WSJ article does a deep dive into the current state of affairs in this area including a mention of the recent shelving of News Corp.’s version (remember the big talk from Rupert Murdoch about paywalls etc., etc).

As for me, I will sit back and wait to see if this idea ever really sees the light of day. The tablet space is going to break wide open in the upcoming year and what will be offered as a result is anybody’s guess. Let’s just hope it makes sense, is a reasonable cost and can be understood by the common man.

So what about you? Would you like to step up to an online newsstand to see what is available? Would that kind of presentation help you to pay for online content or is the newsstand another one of those things that are going the way of the horse and buggy as we continue to digitize our lives further?

  • Cynthia

    I’m with you in regard to newsstands. Both in NY and in LA, I so enjoyed perusing the racks finding magazines I didn’t know existed. I love the internet, but I haven’t found the same joy in reading a virtual magazine and I don’t know why. This week, I bought subscriptions to two magazines (the kind you get in your mailbox) to add to the four other subscriptions I already have. If print mags go altogether, I will mourn the loss.

    • Magazines in a mailbox! Blasphemy!

      I’m right there with you, Cynthia. I set my weekly clock by the rather silly yet very real joy of getting my latest issue of Sports Illustrated (almost always on Thursday) in the mail.

      I agree. If that were taken away I would mourn the loss.

  • amz

    Indeed. The only print magazine I read today is the Reader’s Digest because their virtual content is, and never will be, the same with the hard copy, facts-wise. In my work, I use a computer the whole day and it’s so much more accessible to read online than look for a magazine stand. But I kinda miss doing that too. Which makes me think, I should do that more often.

  • I don’t wanna say goodbye to newsstands. In this very digital world, everything gets overwhelming at times and every chance we could get into being primitive should be grabbed for we are still lucky to have that opportunity.