The Economist: thumbs down for the new audio edition?


The Economist has just launched a a full audio edition  of the weekly mag. Clearly a lot of resource is going into this. On first inspection, the entire content of the print mag is being repurposed for audio – seems to involve an army of voice actors reading out, word for word, every article.

However, there are a number of issues here. First, you have to go to a specific web page to download (no iTunes podcast integration).  You can choose to download the whole mag (100MB – blimey) – or you can download individual sections. But each story is saved as an individual MP3 file – and unless you have some idea in advance (ie by reading the mag first), you don’t really have a clue about the content of each story (Retailing, for example, covers a rather wide range of possibilities).

Also, the reading of a single one page story lasts about 6.5 minutes – I’m sure the time-pressed senior execs who make up the magazine’s readership could read the printed version a lot quicker. And given that much of the material is focussed on figures, audio doesn’t seem the best medium to convey this – how do you create an audio version of a trends graphs, for example.

To listen to the content for the entire mag would come in at around 4.5 hours – I hardly think anyone, let alone a FTSE 100 CEO, has the time to spend listening to the Economist – especially when you can get the info you require much more quickly by simply reading the magazine.

Would have thought they might reconsider a re-think of their appoach – surely a 10 – 15 minute bespoke digest of the week’s main stories would be far more useful (and cost effective) solution.

PS The feedback survey is also quite frustrating – where you can provide additional comments, you are restricted to about 8 words – only right at the end can you provide in substantive feedback – I wonder how may people will bother to persevere to the end?

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