Here's an interesting idea from a metro daily in Arkansas -- provide all subscribers with a free iPad as a way to get rid of the print edition, cut costs, and slow subscription declines. 

Before you dismiss it, you should know that the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has long been ahead of other newspapers in adapting to changes in technology and has weathered the decline of newspapers more than most as a result. It was one of the first large U.S. dailies to implement a pay wall, long before other dailies realized they couldn't give away for their product for free and expect to remain viable. Its circulation has declined less than other metro dailies as a result. 

The Little Rock-based Democrat-Gazette today has 40 percent more newsroom staff members than the Denver Post, which serves a much larger market, so it must be doing something right.

Blake Gumprecht, publisher

Point Roberts Press, Inc. Blanine, Washington

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This is incredibly interesting. I am wondering what happens when someone cancels their subscription.

Cyndy Slovak-Barton, publisher

Barton Publications, Inc., Kyle, Texas, 512-268-7862

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Or loses their iPad. 

Laura Brown

The Canadian Record, Canadian, Texas

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Of course, it all depends on how well your area is wired. Our rural area runs from pretty good in the county seat to (still) dial-up in the outlying areas. Also, there hasn’t been a huge cry from our readers, who get online access free with their print subscription. Only about 20 percent bother to sign up, though we do have about 10 percent of our circulation as online-only customers.

Wayne R. Agner, editor and publisher

The Trinity Journal, P.O. Box 340, Weaverville, California 96093-0340, 530-623-2055

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My brother, Randal, retired from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette last fall after 20-plus years with the Little Rock newspaper. He was telling me of their plans to offer free iPad as an incentive for customers to take the digital edition. It’s clever -- incentivizing subscribers to change their habit of consuming what the Democrat-Gazette provides. As I understand, they will continue publishing a print version of the Sunday edition.

It might work. The “Three P’s” (printing, postage and payroll) have traditionally been the biggest bills paid by publishers, large and small. These digital newspapers obviously eliminate two of those.

Brian Hunhoff

Yankton County Observer, Yankton, South Dakota

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