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French papers join to sell digital reader

Eric Pfanner IHT 07/21/2008 20:26
Sabine Gueraud, left, tried out the Read & Go, an electronic device that allows users to read different newspapers on a small, portable screen. (Paula Kupfer for the International Herald Tribune)

Sabine Gueraud, left, tried out the Read & Go, an electronic device that allows users to read different newspapers on a small, portable screen. (Paula Kupfer for the International Herald Tribune)


PARIS: Paul-François Fournier, an executive at France Télécom in Paris, thinks he may have found a way to help revive the ailing newspaper industry. It comes in a black plastic rectangular box with a screen half the size of a sheet of copy paper.




The device displays links to several French newspapers, with black-on-gray type and images that look a lot like ink on newsprint. Fournier clicks on one of the links with a stylus, and up come the day's headlines in Le Monde. Another click and a full article, as it appears in the printed newspaper, fills the screen.

Seven French publications have joined France Télécom to test a so-called electronic paper, a technology that offers what its supporters say is the most convincing electronic facsimile of ordinary paper in existence. In the experiment, called Read & Go, 120 people in France have been given electronic paper devices, allowing them to download the contents of the newspapers over France Télécom's wireless network.

France Télécom is not the first company to experiment with putting newspapers onto electronic paper. The Kindle, sold by the online bookseller Amazon in the United States, already allows customers to subscribe to e-paper versions of 19 newspapers from around the world. Amazon plans to sell the Kindle in non-U.S. markets, too, though no timetable has been set, according to Andrew Herdener, a spokesman.

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