Kindle shmindle? Finnish paper trials solar powered e-reader

A Finnish newspaper is testing a new solar powered e-reader with 300 customers in the New Year. Helsingin Sanomet, Scandinavia’s biggest daily, is trialling the ePaper which charges in both […]

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By Vicky Ellis

A Finnish newspaper is testing a new solar powered e-reader with 300 customers in the New Year.

Helsingin Sanomet, Scandinavia’s biggest daily, is trialling the ePaper which charges in both sunlight and artificial or “ambient” lighting.

It’s an attempt to claw back some of the lost revenue from advertising as readers migrate from print to online news, according to Janne Kaijärvi, chief media officer of Leia Media which designed the e-reader.

Mr Kaijärvi told ELN it uses “very little energy” compared to devices with LCD screens and is entirely powered by solar: “There’s no way to charge it otherwise.”

Part funded privately and with Finnish public money, the ePaper ecosystem project has already run several smaller field tests, he said: “It’s not been very cheap but we’re very satisfied with where we are.”

With print getting “even more expensive, both the paper and distribution”, he believes the ePaper could be a cheaper option: “The level we’re projecting is considerably less than for newspapers.”

But the device won’t be able to replace smartphones and tablets: “We don’t think people are ready to buy an extra device. They’ll have to be given them.”

By early 2015 Mr Kaijärvi hopes the device will be made in larger amounts, in a lighter format of 100grams compared with today’s pilot which weighs less than 400grams.

Speaking at a meeting organised by Poland’s Chamber of Press Publishers earlier this year, Mr Kaijarvi said: “I’m not trying to prove our solution is the best one ever made. What we know for sure is that if you can make something more convenient than it was before, you can make some money out of that,” reported media and marketing blog INMA.

He pointed to figures which show publishers have lost €51 billion (£43bn) in ads.