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Why hasn't the traditional newspaper design changed much in years? Wouldn't they be easier to hold and read if newspapers were smaller and more book-like?

I am guessing that the newspapers are designed the way they are because fewer sheets probably meant easier "assembly". Is this still a limiting factor?

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Actually, many quality news papers have changed their format from the large A4 to the smaller A3 size. The move probably often met resistance because the tabloids were early(ier) adopters of the smaller format. –  Marjan Venema Mar 3 '13 at 10:30
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@MarjanVenema I think you have a typo there. A3 is twice the size of A4. –  JohnGB Mar 3 '13 at 14:23
    
You can subscribe to certain newspapers on iPad, kindle etc. Those are smaller than broadsheet size. –  JonW Mar 3 '13 at 17:16
    
@JohnGB: yes, went the wrong way, meant A2 to A3. –  Marjan Venema Mar 3 '13 at 20:54
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

There are two types of newspaper sizing; broadsheet, and tabloid (aka compact newspaper). I presume you're talking about shrinking newspapers further, from a tabloid form to book size? Well tabloid and broadsheet sizes do have their advantages

  • Large detailed graphical pictures can be displayed of much more detail than a book could ever convey
  • Some people prefer reading in columns, and laid on a table - reading a large newspaper is pleasant. Also there are connotations associated with larger newspaper, to quote Wikipedia;

In some countries, especially Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US, broadsheet newspapers are commonly perceived to be more intellectual in content than their tabloid counterparts, using their greater size to examine stories in more depth, while carrying less sensationalist and celebrity material.

In the UK some newspapers have altered their size from broadsheet to the compact size in an effort to boost circulation. However, there were complaints from some of their readership. Perhaps that may answer why newspaper format hasn't changed much over the years?

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It's a cultural thing. In Sweden, where I live, there have been a substantial change from broadsheet to tabloid.

In Sweden (and perhaps other countries as well) the broadsheet format was introduced because taxes was based on the number of pages. Thus, fewer but larger pages led to a lower tax for a copy of the newspaper.

More reading about the change in Sweden can be read at http://mindpark.se/mindpark-49-tabloidtisdagen-%E2%80%93-5-oktober-2004/ (in Swedish).

In short: the newspaper community was conservative, but the readers complained about the big format, so after a lot of resistance, newspapers changed.

Since paper newspapers are slowly fading away in favor of Internet-based news services and the change in format is rather expensive, I would say that there is no incentive to further reduce the size of newspapers. A book-sized newspaper would reduce the differences between tablets and newspapers even further, up to a point where they will simply be replaced altogether by tablets and other devices due to the benefits of digital distribution.

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