New e-Reader Service Backed By Hearst

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New York - A spin-off of Hearst Publishing,


, will launch in 2010 an e-magazine, e-newspaper and e-book store that will power at least one dedicated e-reading device during 2010, the company said.

The e-bookstore will be suited to smartphones, netbooks and other devices as well, and Skiff said it will attend International CES with a visible presence and with at least one partner, and possibly show Skiff-based devices.

Skiff, formerly called First Paper, said in a statement that it is working with "major consumer electronics manufacturers" to integrate Skiff's e-bookstore service and its digital store "into a range of innovative devices, the first of which will be unveiled soon."

The devices will be supported by 3G service from Sprint, and Sprint stores will be one of the venues to sell them.

Also, Skiff has partnered with leading semiconductor maker Marvell to create a "system on a chip" for e-readers, it said.

Unlike current e-bookstores, the Skiff digital store will focus heavily on magazines and periodicals. 

"We're building an integrated end-to-end service," said Skiff president Gilbert Fuchsberg.  "We're focused on newspapers, magazine and periodicals first ... we think the category so far has principally been focused on e-books, often with a handful of periodicals that don't deliver a very good experience for the consumer or a good model for the publisher.  Newspapers and magazines are a very large market category - larger than books," he told TWICE, adding, "There's a lot of interesting hardware, but it's tough to do really good services."

Skiff will also offer smartphone apps, it said.

Skiff has been "incubated" as a separate company by Hearst, which has supported other companies in early-stage investments, including Netscape, XM Satellite Radio, Sling Media and E Ink, which makes screens suited to e-readers.

The Skiff service also includes an advertising system, and Skiff is also partnering with Nielsen and ComScore to provide advertisers metrics to gauge advertising effectiveness, said Skiff.


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