Foreign Newspapers Real Time

Updated: May 18 2003, 05:30am hrs
Scott, Wilson, general manager of the InterContinental Parkroyal in Delhi, recounts an embarrassing incident: Only a few days ago, a foreign guest checked into our hotel quite late at night, at around 12 pm. He asked us if he could get a copy of a French newspaper. We could give him only a previous days edition and that too only the next afternoon!

Mr Wilsons days of embarrassment are over. Business travellers staying at the InterContinental Parkroyal can now get real time the days copy of any leading newspaper in the world. This is thanks to an interactive newspaper vending kiosk, being marketed as the International Newspaper Kiosk, which stands proud in the hotels lobby. The kiosk can print digitally (and staple) the latest edition of 119 newspapers (up to a maximum of 40 pages) from 48 countries in as many different languages.

Rita D Rahman, deputy head of mission at the Royal Netherlands Embassy, exclaims over her print of the latest edition of De Telegraaf, saying, We always get a stale copy of the newspaper at our embassy. This is really amazing, Ive got the latest edition. We would love to install a kiosk like this in our embassy clubs.

The satellite and digital technology based kiosk was developed two years ago by the Netherlands based start-up company, PEPC Worldwide. It was then taken to different countries across the globe with great success. As globetrotting has become more frequent and widespread, away from home people want to keep themselves abreast of the latest information of their hometowns and countries, explains Henk Meijer, general manager (Sales & Marketing), PEPC Worldwide.

And nothing (read television or Internet website) can replace the habit and feel of reading a newspaper . Though our kiosks print the newspapers digitally on a tabloid format, the content and layout of the pages are similar to those of the respective newspapers and are comfortably readable.

A print can be obtained from the kiosk only on demand, which means one has to pay per copy of the newspaper one wants to read. Depending on where you are, the price per copy of a newspaper print may vary between $3.5 and $5, says Mr Meijer. In India, it costs $5.

The kiosk is user friendly and the payment procedure is also quite secured, Mr Meijer explains as he demonstrates how to obtain a hard copy. On the touch-screen monitor, you first select your continent, then your country and then the newspaper you want to read. After the selection, insert your credit card (the machine accepts all international credit cards) and it will print the entire newspaper and staple it in just two minutes.

PEPC (Publishers Electronic Printing Concept) has a centralised server in The Hague. The publishers, who partner with us by signing a contract, send their news content digitally to our server , explains Mr Meijer.

As soon as the server receives the contents, it sends them down to more than 500 such kiosks installed in different countries through satellite signals and the kiosks can then print digitally the contents on a tabloid format, irrespective of the language of the publication. In India, PEPCs International Newspaper Kiosks are marketed by Consilnet Inc., a US-based, start-up company specialising in providing broadband based, value added services to hotels and the hospitality sector. By the end of this year, we are aiming to sell 50 such machines to four-star and five-star hotels, airports, hospitals, embassies, etc., says Pankaj Thakar, CEO, Consilnet Inc. Each kiosk costs around $10,000 plus import duty.

If the kiosk can sell 10 newspapers a day, the kiosk owner can break even in less than a year, cites Mr Meijer. The kiosk owner can keep track of per copy of the newspapers printed from the machines through a personalised website, he adds.

PEPC itself manages the performance of each individual kiosk and transactions thereon. The transaction revenues are then settled on a monthly basis by PEPC with individual kiosk owners across the globe. A percentage of the sale proceeds (per copy) go to the publishers as their copyright royalty, explains Mr Meijer.