Sunday, January 4, 2009

USA Today vs. The New York Times

I've been paying $13.99/month for The New York Times on my Kindle for several months now and I love it. When I saw USA Today was coming to the Kindle I was curious, so I signed up for a 14-day trial. I'm less than a week into it and getting ready to shut it down.

My curiosity stemmed from the highly visual, full-color design USA Today features in print and how it would be rendered on a monochrome device. So while the lack of USA Today's visual appeal on the Kindle wasn't exactly surprising it's more disappointing than you might think. My exposure to USA Today is typically limited to road trips since it's often the preferred newspaper at many hotels. I enjoy seeing all the colorful images, charts, graphs, etc. They're absent from the Kindle edition and you can't help notice it on every page.

How about the content itself? I never realized how much personality the Times has vs. USA Today till I compared both on the Kindle. So while the editorials from the Times shine in print or e-format, USA Today just doesn't seem to have the same level of insightful commentary, leaving me to feel USA Today loses a lot when it loses the color/imagery. I also like scanning the "news from every state" that appears in the print edition. I usually head to states I've lived in (Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana) and skip the rest. That's pretty easy to do in print but not so much on the Kindle. They're sorted alphabetically (just like the print version), so in order to get to Indiana I have to scroll through every state from Alabama through Illinois before I get there. Surely there's a more efficient way of presenting this sort of content in e-format!

Then there's the annoying fact that USA Today is a weekday-only publication. Sure, they distribute that Friday edition with "weekend coverage," but it's not the same as getting a completely new issue on Saturday and Sunday. I'm very much looking forward to reading the Sunday Times later tonight...good luck getting that feeling from a USA Today subscription. Maybe that's why Amazon offers USA Today at a slightly lower price than the Times ($11.99 vs. $13.99). IMHO, the Times is worth every bit of that additional $2/month charge.


Anonymous said...

Joe, I agree with your opinion about USA Today. I was looking forward to getting it and I've had it for about two weeks and it's been canceled. I can't get over their constant use of "USA" instead of United States or's just annoying!