I’m a regular newspaper reader as are many of my friends and family. I like being able to see the same thing they saw in my newspaper and have a “Did you see that article on page 4…” conversation. For this reason I’m not convinced that the constantly mutating website is the best way to see news beyond the immediately fresh. And that’s why I subscribe to the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and the New York Times (NYT) in their apps that allow me to see my online version looking the same as the paper version. So I was interested to take a fresh look at the Press Reader app, which provides this same facility over a wide range of newspapers.
The app itself
The app presents the publications exactly as their printed versions. There’s the usual pinch to zoom functionality and the pages render quickly and cleanly. The bottom of the screen shows you where you are in the publication, a feature I particularly like. You can also easily pull up thumbnails of the pages and jump to something that looks interesting.
Because the app is generic and covers multiple publications you can’t jump to specific sections as easily as you can with the NYT or SMH apps; but the trade-off, of course, is that you get multiple publications in the one app.
There’s also a function called Smartflow which re-sets the articles into one long stream; I can’t say I like it or can see the utility in it myself, bearing in mind that my incentive for using the app is that it looks the same as the hardcopy paper. You can also have the content read out to you, which could be wonderful if you are vision impaired – the computer-generated voice isn’t even too bad.
There are 142 publications from Australia available through Press Reader at the moment. The headline publications are probably The Daily Telegraph, The Age and The Australian. After that it descends into a range of regional publications: which is great if you are a regular reader of the Benalla Ensign or the Deniliqin Pastoral Times but realistically they are not going to be major draw-cards for most people.
There’s a fairly good list of international publications available, although there seems to be, again, a depth of News Limited papers which somewhat limits choice.
Pricing is where things get really interesting if you are an avid reader. There are two basic choices available.
You can download a single issue for around a dollar – which would be a good way to access the paper if you just need to follow up on a single topic.
More interestingly, you can subscribe to all of the content on Press Reader for US$29.95 per month. That price is roughly in line with what most papers are charging for their stand-alone subscription. If you read a few newspapers that could be an absolutely great deal. More than anything else, that all-you-can-eat package differentiates Press Reader from the other, publication-specific offerings on the market. If Press reader had the newspapers I want included in the package, the SMH and NYT for a start, I’d be using it today. But it does not have any features, technical or presentation, that overcome the immediate content choice for me.
If you are a reader of The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, and also want a dose of the Benalla Ensign or an overseas publication, Press Reader is an excellent way to read them in the context of a great-priced package.
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Note: I was given a free subscription for review purposes.