Technology companies are cutting deals with content providers to bring online newspapers, magazines and other sites directly to consumers' desktops. For the content companies, it is a way to have their products delivered directly to the user that is preferable to waiting like wallflowers on the World Wide Web for the consumer to surf by and stop at the site.
"Whoever really uses their bookmark file? People bookmark sites, and then they never come back," says Ben Graboske, director of systems and software design at New York Times Electronic Media in New York. The Times started being beamed directly to users this week as part of the Inbox Direct feature of Netscape's Navigator 3.0. Inbox Direct works like this: The email software built in to Navigator will display Hypertext Markup Language the same way the Web browser does. Taking advantage of that feature, the Times and a dozen other newspapers, magazines and other companies are emailing whole Web sites to consumers who request the service.
Another option is to package the Web sites using any of the "off-line" readers for the Web. Those products download Web pages in bulk so that they can be cached on a PC's hard disk to speed up access and make Web pages available even when the user isn't connected to the Internet. Examples include Traveling Software's WebEx, Open Market's OM-Express and Individual's Freeloader.
The main way off-line readers work is that users program them to find the Web sites they want. The programs also come preprogrammed with directions for downloading some Web sites.