Newspaper circulations have been declining for some time. I get news from a variety of sources these days, typically via RSS feeds. In effect, I have an application (an RSS aggregator) that makes a custom newspaper for me. Newspapers are still found in the kind of places where it’s difficult to get a network connection, such as trains (particularly subway trains). A cheap eBook reader would provide a good alternative—particularly welcome to anyone who has sat next to someone performing origami with a broadsheet newspaper on the commute into London.
The algorithms used to lay out newspapers are quite well understood. It’s not hard to imagine a news site letting you rate your interest in specific articles. If you rated this article highly, then the system would learn that you liked unfocused ramblings about the future of technology, and in the future would give you more speculative articles. Each morning your eBook reader might automatically download a PDF of the latest stories of interest to you. These downloads might include advertising, in the same way that print publications do, although more likely to be tailored to the reader.
Unlike print newspapers, the publishers of news feeds aren’t the only ones who could handle this creation step. If you subscribe to multiple news feeds, your computer (or the eBook reader itself, if it has enough processing power) could do the composition for you. Alternatively, a third-party intermediary such as Google News could produce an electronic newspaper compiled from a variety of sources.
This isn’t much different from a current news site, except that the content would be aggregated and compiled for offline reading on a device with limited screen real estate.