Android App Review: PressReader

PressReader is an Android app that puts over 2,000 newspapers on your Android device. The app is well-designed, and, if you’re a newspaper fanatic, a great resource for accessing information. The app is available for free in Google Play, but requires monthly payment  of $29.99 for unlimited access to the newspaper database. Here’s the company’s highlight video:

Registration is simple, and once your device is authorized, you’re prepared to pick from the extensive list of papers from all over the world.

One of the cool features is the ability to automatically deliver your selected papers upon publication, quite handy if you’re adept at getting your daily fix.

I also like the layout of the text, and the two reading options for viewing the newspapers. The first is the standard page layout, with “pinch and zoom” capabilities that allow you to enlarge the text and articles. The second reading view is a text-only view, which I least prefer.

I think a lot of people will like the PressReader application, but despite that and Futurelawyer, Rick Georges’ glowing review, I have some issues.

First, I think for anyone but the most ardent newspaper reader, the $29.99 per month price tag is steep. Although the company offers a “pay-as-you-go” option, $0.99 per newspaper is a still a lot. I subscribed to the full service for one month, and found that I significantly lacked the time or desire to browse the  newspaper. Ultimately, the four or five papers I ended up viewing were very costly.

Which brings me to my second point: free access to information. I much more prefer viewing the news from the paper’s website, at my option, than having to flip page by page. Most sites follow a simple newspaper format, presenting “above the fold” stories in highlight boxes or video tabs, and the others “below the fold.” I know, my digital fetish is killing the print industry, but I don’t care. I never got into newsprint, and the “nostalgia of paper” simply has no meaning. Additionally, the free factor is huge, especially given number 1 above. I’m not especially interested in the minute details of every article, so having to pay a price, premium or otherwise, simply doesn’t jive.

Unfortunately too, as I quickly discovered, there’s a no refund policy if you cancel your subscription in the middle of the month, or five days into the next billing cycle, as I did. Moreover, by using the app, you theoretically subject yourself to the jurisdiction of the laws and courts of British Columbia, and specifically consent to venue in Vancouver. Now, I know zero about Canadian law, except, fortunately it’s based in British Common Law. Although I suspect the choice of law provision is likely unenforceable in a United States court (think Commerce Clause argument here), I’m not going to be the one to challenge it. Which also means I’m not going to challenge the potential consumer issues raised by the no refund/pro-rata refund policy.

Overall, if you love reading newspapers, but hate the mess, PressReader is for you. If you’re a casual fan, then you might not want to do it, or you may just want to pay as you go. If you’re afraid of “The Man,” you’re going to despise this app and its subjugation of you. Me, I’m lazy, would rather browse a website, and can’t afford to shell out $350+ for something I’m going to use two or three times per month.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.