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Just as some publishers are moving to a metered and other pay wall systems, many others — really, the vast majority — aren’t. Reason: All sorts of research shows people, by in large, won’t pay for content.

That’s no surprise. No one has ever paid for content.  They’ve always paid for the convenience of getting their product to their door, whether via newspaper delivery boy or mail. That’s why asking whether someone would pay for content misses the point entirely.

The question should always be: are you willing to pay for the convenience of getting the information you want in whatever form you want it? That form can include mobile phones, tablets, laptops, print, electronic editions and whatever other form comes about.

Framing the question around the convenience of delivery would bring a much different answer. People are all about convenience; that’s why satellite and cable TV continue to do well in a time that no one really needs them. They bundle a large number of services and deliver it to you in a tidy package that’s easy to access.

Publishers should spend more time focusing on the convenience factor. Not only does it bring clarity to how they should position their product offering, but it also will help lead to decisions about what to include in their product bundle.

Yet another company has come out with an e-reader. E-Ink Corp has created a device with a six-inch screen that shows only black and white text, and has no wireless. For that, you get to pay $300.

Why would someone want to pay for a device they have to hook up to an existing laptop in order to get what they want to read? That’s like saying you’d much rather have an 8-track recorder instead of a DVR.

These kinds of devices are exactly why the e-reader market will shake out faster than most believe. E-Ink isn’t the only company pumping out e-readers with no wireless. So are companies like Booken, Cool-ER and Dittobook. These may have been okay at the dawn of the e-reader age —- which was just last year — but technology has already overtaken these relatively new offerings. Sony, IRex, Plastic Logic and First Paper will all launch wireless e-readers by early next year. CrunchPad, Dell and Apple are all rumored to be developing wireless tablets. And prices for the wireless devices are falling fast, so much so that Forrester predicts an average e-reader price of $199 nest year and $99 in 2011.

Without wireless, people can’t information when they want it. True, many of these devices were built for book readers, not for newspaper and magazine readers or those who want to surf the web. But the devices that have a chance at long-term success are the ones that allow users to perform multiple tasks at once. What would you rather do? Spend $300 on a single-use device or $399 (the rumored price) of the much ballyhooed CrunchPad?

Change is coming really fast. So fast that these e-readers with no wireless could soon be like 8-track tapes … an interesting relic well past its time.

The drop in classified revenue will kill newspapers. The drop in advertising revenue will lead to their doom. The fall in circulation will result in newspapers printing fewer days of the week, and maybe cease operations all together.

These are among the more popular doomsday scenarios, none of which will lead to the demise of newspapers. Classified revenue may be close to bottoming out; newspaper inserts — especially on Sunday — are still the most reliable way to get advertiser messages to customers; and the current circulation numbers don’t portend doom, but instead mean we have the customers that really want out products, and they’re tremendously valuable to our advertisers.

But there is new challenger that could do more damage more quickly than any of the issues above — wireless companies. Their ability to market products and turn out new technology bodes poorly for publishers.

Look at what’s happening in the market. Plastic Logic is partnering with AT&T to distribute its e-reader. Rumors persist that Apple’s tablet will be launched this fall, and be distributed through Verizon. If AT&T and Verizon are in the game, you can bet Sprint and T-Mobile won’t be far behind.

Each will be able to offer complete digital packages for one price — a cell phone; netbook (or laptop) for home use; an e-reader for portable use; a data plan to power all of those devices; and, oh by the way, home internet and cable access, too.

The wireless carriers could also sell a digital advertising package across all of their platforms, reaching customers via several tools multiple times a day. The carriers don’t have to produce any content themselves; the thousands of available free apps will take care of that. Notice I said “content” and not “news.”

Here’s where the conjecture comes in: What if the carriers decide they want to partner with select news organizations for exclusive rights to their content …  the content only appears on their devices for their audience? And what if  the carriers offer affordable data plans and focus on combining their services into one attractive package? Which publishers make it, and which ones get shut out because their content isn’t available due to these exclusive deals?

This could be entirely off base. But the wireless carriers see an opportunity, and they’re embracing it much faster than many publilshers.