IoS goes tabloid at last after 'frustrating' two-year wait

By Dominic Ponsford

The Independent on Sunday finally decided to switch to a tabloid
format this weekend because staff at the daily felt they had seen off
the initial onslaught from the Berliner Guardian.

Editor Tristan Davies said: “Over the past few months the company’s
eyes have been trained on The Guardian and the Berliner format and it
made sense to deal with that first. And what has given us the green
light is [the market] settling down – it looks like The Guardian has
spent between £80 million and £120 million on the Berliner launch and
only damaged the daily paper by between one and five thousands copies
on a bad day.

“Obviously that’s an ongoing battle but we thought now let’s turn our attention to the Sunday.”

first dummies for a tabloid IoS were put together two years ago, and
Davies admits it has been a frustrating wait, but he points out that by
changing now it will still the reap the benefits of being the only
compact quality national on a Sunday.

Despite the fact that few readers will be travelling on public transport, he believes the benefits are still there.

fact is that it is manageable and easy to use and easy to navigate – it
doesn’t matter where you are. If it’s easier, it’s easier. And it’s
very modern.

People quite like the fact they don’t have to
perform gymnastic feats of endurance in getting through their paper
every morning.”

Davies said the new-look paper, despite a
redesign throughout, will still be recognisably the same Independent on
Sunday. The main book runs to 104 pages going from news, comment,
foreign news and then news review to sport.

He said: “We have
lots of devices and regular features to break up the news and stop what
designers call the tunnel effect of just rushing through news to get to
the features section or comment.”

The main innovation in terms of
sup- plements is a 24-page travel section called Compact Traveller
which takes the form of a weekly guide to a place or subject area and
which Davies hopes will have a shelf life of much longer than a week.

admits the new design has made the IoS closer in look to the daily Indy
but he said: “It’s very important that the paper doesn’t become a
seventh day Independent – we have a different staff, different
approach. We do things our way and that will continue.”

He said
there will be no move to the concept single-issue front pages pioneered
by Simon Kelner at the daily Independent: “Sunday newspapers are still
about breaking news and setting the agenda, there will be times when we
do the single story on the front.”Davies said the IoS has an editorial
staff a third the size of some of his rivals and it was a tribute to
them that sales have remained so steady over the past 18 months (at
just above the 200,000 mark).

He said now they are going to get the promotional back-up they have been missing out on.

the past two years we have spent £20,000 on promotion at The
Independent on Sunday, we have concentrated on the daily. Now we are
backing the Sunday paper and for the next four weeks or so there will
be TV adverts, there will be flight offers, there will be ad-ons and
marketing spend on the newspaper. We feel this is our time and our turn
and we are really going to take the opportunity.”

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