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Skiff: Not for Town & Country Types

December 9, 2009 6:31 PM | 0 Comments
It's no secret the magazine industry is having a hard time staying afloat, as major titles folded by the dozen in 2009. And though Hearst made ears perk up when it said that it would launch Skiff, an e-reader service of sorts, in 2010, a lot of questions remain. 
The publisher of Harper's Bazaar and O, The Oprah magazine said that Skiff brings magazines to smartphones and Kindle-like devices. Plus, the Skiff service and digital store will feature a selection of newspapers, books and magazines.
Still, it's unclear whether I'll be able to download rival publications (those from Conde Nast, like Vogue), through Skiff.
Even though Skiff will be ad-supported, who will use it?  
Although digital media is cheaper to produce than print, there's "no proof" something like Skiff "is going to sell products," Steve Cohn, editor-in-chief of magazine industry publication Media Industry Newsletter, remarked during a recent phone conversation with me.
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I live in Connecticut, but I'm from Washington, D.C., which means six-hour train rides back and forth for the holidays. Though I love my BlackBerry Curve, there are days I wish my Mac had a built-in wireless network access thingie so I could surf the 'net while cruising down the mid-Atlantic. 
So when I heard about AT&T's HP Mini netbook with built-in access to the AT&T's 3G and WiFi networks, my ears perked up. 
This new, light, 2.57-pound 'book features Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, a 10.1-inch LED anti-glare widescreen display, 1G of memory, a 160GB hard drive and is only $199 after mail-in rebate via an AT&T promotion card. There's just one catch: You have to buy a two-year data service contract, and pay $35-60 per month for service. All for the benefit of getting to use AT&T WiFi wherever you are. 
Still, making a commitment to shell out another $35-60 a month is difficult - I wish you could just rent netbooks for $20 per train trip (hint, hint Amtrak)! That would make those monthly train rides go a whole lot more smoothly. 
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