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. ...