Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev are poised to launch a “distilled” version of The Independent, the newspaper they acquired in March, in the hope of attracting readers who have neither the time or energy to read full-sized newspapers.
The new title, named i, will go on sale nationwide on October 26 for 20p and will also be available as a paid-for iPad application.
The launch of i provides fresh evidence of the way newspaper proprietors are being forced to innovate and experiment as they adapt to structural changes in the way people consume media.
British quality newspapers have seen their circulation fall more than 20 per cent since 1997, according to Benedict Evans, an analyst at Enders. The Independent had a net daily circulation of 182,776 in September, the lowest of the quality national newspapers, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
Priced closer to tabloids such as The Sun and the Daily Star than to the Independent, which costs £1, i will offer readers a bite-size version of its parent paper’s content.
Simon Kelner, editor-in-chief of the Independent, said the title was aimed at readers who were “suffering from information overload, and want a comprehensive digest of the news”.
“All quality newspapers are terrific value for money at the moment; they’re packed full of ideas, expertise, fine writing, photography,” he told the FT. “But why are circulations continuing to fall? There are lots of reasons but one of them is that it’s too rich a diet. Readers can’t get through it all, therefore they feel it doesn’t represent value for money, because they have to throw most of it away.”
Mr Kelner said he did not believe the new title would cannibalise sales of The Independent, arguing that the two would sit in different markets. Additional costs would be limited, he said, since the title would simply “repurpose” the company’s existing resources.
“It’s about finding a new audience without increasing our cost base,” he said.
The introduction of a “mini-Indy” is part of the Lebedevs’ plan to revive The Independent brand. The parent paper will also get a makeover, with a “new distinctive look and feel".