Friday, April 13, 2012

Kobo announces deal to bring McClatchy newspapers to the Kobo newsstand

Update: I received an e-mail from James Calloway, VP Strategic Development at McClatchy that confirms that something went very wrong with their Kobo editions. Kobo has since pulled the digital editions and will relaunch them in the near future. TNM will update this story when they reappear again in the Kobo newsstand.

Kobo, the eReader service formerly associated with the Borders book chain, announced today an agreement to bring the McClatch newspapers to the Kobo newsstand. Additionally, the company said that users can enjoy a free 14 day trial for any of its periodicals available.
“McClatchy’s strategy is to make its publications available to consumers in whatever form and location they want,” Christian A. Hendricks, McClatchy's Vice President, Interactive Media, said in the Kobo announcement. “Devices such as the Kobo Touch eReaders are an important part of that strategy.”

The strategy makes sense, even if the effort appears to be far less than what other publishers would consider acceptable.

I had not previously downloaded the Kobo app for either of the devices that I own – iPhone or iPad – and so wanted to see these Kobo editions at work. The Kobo newsstand is, frankly, not much help.

The newspaper and magazine listings give you a description of the periodical, but no screenshots of the edition. Each newspaper is priced on a monthly manner – generally $9.99 and up. The NYT properties are at $14.99.

The sign up process is very quick and downloading the iPad app – the app I chose – was also a snap.
Sadly, this is where things got freaky. I signed up for the Miami Herald, one of McClatchy's big titles. To do this I needed to give Kobo my billing information including a credit card. No problem there, since every newsstand will require this.

Returning to my iPad I attempted to download the first issue of the Herald, but nothing was happening. It said it was downloading but I was getting nothing. I paused the download (a nice feature) and restarted it and presto my first issue.

When I saw the results I think I could understand why there are no screenshots in the Kobo newsstand. Is this really what the future of tablet newspapers looks like? (That's snark, by the way.)

Something went terribly wrong here, so I will end this week assuming that this was all a terrible mistake and on Monday the Miami Herald will stop looking like this.