Bundling a table with your newspaper subscription


View of an office space looking out into city buildings.
View of an office space looking out into city buildings.

Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat learned something shocking about non-readers in 2010 field studies: Many ordinary, middle-class, working families did not have a dining table. That is yet one more impediment to reading a print newspaper. Instead, the heart of their living room was a home entertainment centre with a flat-screen TV and other devices, the study found.

In an article for INMA's Ideas Magazine, Editor-in-Chief Reeta Meriläinen opined: “If one does not have a table, it is impossible to spread out and read a broadsheet like ours. Perhaps, we thought, we should bundle a dining table into our subscription.”

Count me in.

I'm a single guy who lives in a 20th floor condominium in downtown Dallas. Great nestled, panoramic view of the skyline. When I moved here two years ago, I made a series of design and furniture choices. None included a dining table or a kitchen table, much like the Finnish field studies suggest.

Over the past two years, my reading habits turned very digital: heavy computer, heavy iPhone. I was never afraid to pay for a digital subscription.

There was rarely a print newspaper in the home. In my mind, a print broadsheet in my home had become an irritant — something valued that I couldn't comfortably read.

Print newspapers became my lunchtime and occasionally dinnertime escape — where I could find a restaurant or bar with plenty of room to spread out, and leave it to the establishment to dispose of the paper.

Now, that has changed.

I set out in recent weeks to find not a dining table, but a Newspaper Reading Table. I wanted a perch overlooking downtown. Something wide enough and deep enough for a broadsheet. Something big enough to also house a laptop and an iPad and perhaps stack the week's newspapers.

Something that allows me to comfortably read a print newspaper in my home.

I proudly found that perch. And it has already transformed my desire to read print at home. In the process, I've rediscovered the pleasures of print in a comfortable environment: depth, slowness, escapism, serendipity. I'm even thinking about a print newspaper subscription at home. My guess is that is an advertiser's target.

And if I don't use the table for that purpose soon, I know it will become a place where the papers of everyday life will soon find themselves.

If only someone had thought of bundling a table with my newspaper subscription earlier. ...

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