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Canada Post will be hedging its future on e-commerce, says Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra.

In an interview with The Financial Post's Tim Shufelt, Chopra responded to allegations that Canada Post was becoming obsolete. Chopra claimed the perception is greatly exaggerated.

“I can see in the end a viable, healthy, vibrant company. To get there, we have to go through some adjustments. It’s a race against time,” he said.

Chopra said although the company was buoyed by monthly bills and statements  for the first 40 years, e-commerce will be the next phase.

“Paper has some great qualities,” said Chopra. “We live in a decade of duality. You’re going to need your printed magazine, at least for a while. And you can have it on your tablet. This decade of duality gives us a transitional phase to reposition the business.”

SFGate, the online presence of of the San Francisco Chronicle, has published an article titled Technology And the Death of Print Media. Written by contributor Greg McFarlane, the article contends that print media will soon be "more dead than Rasputin."

McFarlane states that while it has had a great run of 560 years, technology has made print obsolete as a means of communications: "Given the choice between carrying a static piece of paper that can be cumbersome to navigate, one that becomes a relic the second it's published, and a dynamic device that conveys information instantly, is it even a question as to which one will dominate the market?"

McFarlane points to the decline of newspapers such as Denver's Rocky Mountain News as an indicator of print's looming demise.

Montreal-based Transcontinental, continuing with its strategy to provide multi-platform marketing services, is combining its Media and Interactive divisions into a single sector, under the Transcontinental Media name. 

The new operational structure will be led by current Transcontinental Media President, Natalie Larivière, who has been developing Transcontinental’s digital products and services since 2006. As well, Christian Trudeau, President of Transcontinental Interactive, will be leaving the organization on October 31, 2011. 

The sector will now be responsible for products and services in publishing, distribution, data analytics and management, as well as interactive marketing solutions (mobile, digital promotions, etc.) and digital media.

“After three years of developing our interactive marketing products and services, it became a natural step to provide our customers with an integrated offer by grouping them in our media operations,” stated François Olivier, President and CEO of Transcontinental. “Supply and demand in the marketing communications industry has changed rapidly, reflecting the ever-growing presence of communication channels such as mobile technology and social media. In this new environment our customers want to reach their target customers more effectively by using a combination of media, digital and interactive solutions.

“Concretely, the reorganization of our digital activities and interactive marketing solutions will make it easier to market our products and services and emphasize our offer on the various communication platforms, while continuing to deploy our other media and printing products.”

Transcontinental states that its digital activities and interactive marketing solutions now generate more than $175 million in revenues on an annualized basis and employ some 1,000 people in Canada and the United States.

UPDATE SEPT. 28: Amazon has made the formal announcement of the Kindle Fire. It will be US$199 and start shipping on November 15. Amazon has also announced a new e-ink based Kindle model known as the Kindle Touch. Unlike its previous models, it will not have a physical keyboard, instead relying on a touch screen. 3G version is US$149, Wifi-only model is US$99. Further down the range, a non-touchscreen Kindle will be US$79 (which is subsidized by advertising, unsubsidized models are $30-$40 more). Canadian availability is unknown at this point.

Mega online retailer Amazon is set to announce its offering in the increasingly crowded tablet market space on Wednesday this week. While other companies have failed to dethrone Apple's iPad, Amazon's effort is seen as having the most potential to drain sales from the Cupertino-based computer giant.

Expected to be named the Kindle Fire, the device is built upon the open-source Android platform. Google, however, is not involved with the development, and the tablet is not expected to be able to access Google's Android Market for applications.

Amazon released its own Appstore on March 22, aimed at Android phone users. It has received significant traction with daily free apps, and deep discounts. Today the store has over 3,800 applications.

Amazon launched its first-generation Kindle reader in November of 2007 and soon became the leader in eBook devices. Based on e-ink technology, the devices caused its eBook sales to surpass the company's paperback sales at the end of 2010.

The new Kindle Fire is expected to use a more conventional colour screen and is a response to Barnes and Noble's Nook Color device and also the iPad. Tech industry blog Techcrunch reports that it will be a a 7-inch device which shares many similarities with Research in Motion's PlayBook.

FedEx Office has announced it has upgraded its cloud printing offerings to include printing from Google Docs, the software giant's online productivity suite. FedEx Office is the first to offer this type of inter-connectivity to Google's cloud application suite.

FedEx Office Print Online customers can transfer documents from their Google Docs account for printing and either have it delivered to their door or to a local FedEx Office location for pick-up. The FedEx Office Print Online application was launched in 2007 and today gets more than 250,000 unique visits on average per month.

"As the first national print retailer to offer cloud printing technology, we are excited to meet the growing demand for mobility with FedEx Office Print Online. Our enhanced solution makes Web-based printing easy, wherever you store your files," said Anthony Norris, vice president of digital access marketing at FedEx Office.

Google Docs is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to Microsoft's Office application for small business and personal use. While it lacks many advanced features of Microsoft's offering, it is offered for free and, as a cloud application, can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection.

In 2007, Adobe and FedEx Kinko's (as it was then known) caused an uproar in the printing community when Adobe released its Acrobat and Acrobat Reader software with a FedEx Kinko's button which sent the documents directly to a FedEx Kinko's location. Adobe eventually backed down and removed the button with an update.

Schoolchildren in South Korea will see paper books replaced by computer tablets as a government initiative targets its replacements by the year 2015.

According to The Chosun Ilbo, a Korean-based newspaper, the Korean Ministry of Education has plans to invest over US$2 billion in developing interactive content which can be accessed anywhere. Traditional static content will be supplemented by interactive features, all hosted on the cloud.

The Ministry also plans to provide free tablet computers for students from low-income families. "It will be up to schools to decide which digital textbooks to choose for students in what year in what subject," a ministry official said. "We don't expect the shift to digital textbooks to be difficult as students today are very accustomed to the digital environment."

Printology of Richmond Hill, Ontario has added a Fujifilm XMF workflow to its operation. The system promises increased productivity due to fewer touch points and easier interaction with prepress workers.

The Fujifilm XMF system integrates both JDF and Adobe's Print Engine technology. The system supports both offset and digital production and also features 3D softproofing. Flexible imposition via JDF stripping also allows XMF to re-impose jobs on-the-fly for late changes of press or even to split jobs between multiple presses.

Printology has been in business since 1987 and provides end-to-end print production services, from creative concept to final product. It also produces everything from wedding invitations to business directories to packaging products.

For people who prefer the convenience of eReaders but miss the aesthetic qualities of print, a new product will help bridge the gap. Called the Times of New York, a candle aims to emulate the smell of black ink on newsprint. The candle's product page describes it as "newsy, with hints of guaiacwood, cedar, musk, and spice."

The idea of the candle came from designer-artist Tobias Wong, who passed away in 2010. Aware of the growing scent movement in the art world, Wong envisioned a way of replicating the smells of The New York Times, a publication he loved and had a long relationship with. The candle was not actualized within Wong's lifetime.

Those who wish to get a piece of this novelty would have to pay a steep price: the candle has a limited production of 1,000 pieces and sells for US$65.

The candle can be purchased here.

The City of San Francisco has decided to make the Yellow Pages and other print directories purely opt-in, meaning unless a resident asks for one, they will not get one delivered onto their doorsteps.

In the age of online searches and smart phones, fewer people are turning towards the venerable paper phone directory for information. San Francisco currently has 1.6 million business directories delivered each year, which, when stacked, would be 8 1/2 times the height of Mt. Everest.

While many cities have an opt-out option for phone directories, San Francisco is believed to be the first municipality to go for an opt-in option. The city's Board of Supervisors has already voted 10-1 to pass the legislation to ban the delivery of unwanted directories. It will face a second vote this week, which is expected to pass.

According to the Board of Supervisors, the directories not only cause seven million pounds of paper waste per year, but also damage the city's recycling equipment, due to its bulk.

Amazon today announced it will be releasing a new version of its Kindle e-book reader which will be cheaper to buy, but will contain advertising on the screen when the device is not in use.

"We're working hard to make sure that anyone who wants a Kindle can afford one," said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO. "Kindle with Special Offers is the same #1 bestselling Kindle - and it's only US$114. Kindle is the best deal in consumer electronics anywhere in the world."

Priced at US$25 less than the basic Wi-Fi model, the device includes special offers from both Amazon and 3rd party advertisers. Buick, Olay (Procter & Gamble), Visa, and Reward Visa Card (Chase) are sponsoring the first series of ads.

The advantage of the Kindle and advertising is that the display draws no power when it is not refreshed and is always on. Ads will not appear when a  customer is using the device to read.

The New York Times has decided to go with a pay model for its online content through a digital subscription model. The paywall was launched last Thursday here in Canada and will come into effect on March 28 in the U.S.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman of The New York Times Company and publisher of The New York Times, said, "Today marks a significant transition for The Times, an important day in our 159-year history of evolution and reinvention.

"Our decision to begin charging for digital access will result in another source of revenue, strengthening our ability to continue to invest in the journalism and digital innovation on which our readers have come to depend. This move will enhance The Times' position as a source of trustworthy news, information and high-quality opinion for many years to come."

Non-paying users will be able to access 20 articles per month at no charge before being asked to subscribe. The Top News section will remain free for smartphone and tablet users. Home delivery subscribers will receive free and unlimited access to the NYTimes site.

Digital subscriptions start at US$15 for every four weeks for access via the Website and through the smartphone app. Access through the company's tablet app (which includes website access) sells for US$20 every four weeks. Users who want both smartphone, tablet and Website access pay US$35 every four weeks.

According to a several reports, Montreal newspaper La Presse is looking to transition to a digital format in the near future, despite a standing 15-year contract with Transcontinental to print the newspaper.

Le Devoir, a competitor to La Presse, reported on Friday that plans are underway to drastically reduce the printing of the newspaper, turning instead to digital-only publishing. Such plans could include offering free iPads or other digital devices to those who sign up for a three-year subscription to the newspaper.

The Montreal Gazette also covered the story, stating that the print edition may be reduced to 75,000 from its current 200,000 copies daily. The report also says $5 million has already invested into the plan and another $25 million is earmarked for the transition.

La Presse representative Caroline Jamet told CTV News that "Whatever transpires, we have a printing contract in the tens of millions of dollars with Transcontinental that ends in 2018.” The two parties signed the agreement in 2001 and in 2003 Transcontinental opened a new plant which gave La Presse an upgrade in print quality.

CTV Story
Montreal Gazette Story

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation launched what it calls the world's first iPad-only newspaper. Dubbed The Daily, the publication features a full staff to produce exclusive content.

“New times demand new journalism,” said Murdoch. “So we built The Daily completely from scratch — on the most innovative device to come about in my time — the iPad."

A weekly subscription to The Daily will cost US$0.99 while an annual subscription will be US$39.99. The Daily is the first project to take advantage of the new publication subscription platform from Apple. Prior to this, publishers were not able to sell subscriptions on Apple's tablet device.

While breaking stories will be pushed to users, The Daily claims its focus will be more on in-depth editorial, more akin to a magazine's content than a newspaper's. It will be led by Jesse Angelo, who was the Executive Director of the New York Post, another News Corp property.

The Daily launches at a moment when advances in technology are changing the job of the modern editor,” said Angelo. “These advances are giving us new ways to tell stories. We intend to take advantage of all of them, and make The Daily the new voice for a new era.”

In July last year, CEO Jeff Bezos announced that sales of Kindle ebooks has exceeded that of hardcover books sold on Amazon. Now Amazon has announced that the number has now grown to exceed that of the paperbacks it sells.

In the company's fourth-quarter sales report, the company revealed that for every 100 paperbacks it has sold, it has sold 115 Kindle books, with free Kindle books excluded from the number. The company also says that sales of its third generation device has exceeded the sales of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which Amazon claims to have held the title as the company's bestselling product in its history.

The U.S. Kindle store how has 810,000 titles, of which 670,000 of them are $9.99 or less.

As a whole, the company's sales have increased 36 percent over the same quarter in 2009, to US$12.95 billion.

"Thanks to our customers, we achieved two big milestones," said Bezos. "We had our first $10 billion quarter, and after selling millions of third-generation Kindles with the new Pearl e-ink display during the quarter, Kindle books have now overtaken paperback books as the most popular format on"

Google has entered the eBook sales game with its own offering called Google eBooks (not to be confused with Google Books, which digitizes and catalogues books out of libraries).

Google eBooks so far is available for the U.S. market only and is aimed to directly compete with Amazon's Kindle store. Unlike the Kindle store, however, Google eBooks are designed to support a wide range of devices and allows users to read books "in the cloud" which means one can access purchased books through their Google account.

According to Google, more than 3-million eBooks are available through its store. While Canadians can browse the store and even download free and public-domain books, paid books are unavailable for the time being.

The company's Website explains, "Google eBooks are currently only available for sale to users located in the United States. We are working hard to expand the countries in which Google eBooks are available and offer this new product to readers around the world, and appreciate your continued interest."

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