The Guardian's new Berliner formatThe Guardian debuted its much anticipated new Berliner format yesterday, supported by a new editors' blog to document the launch day.

Online technology editor Victor Keegan wrote: "The paper had gone 'off stone' 34 seconds ahead of schedule and 630,000 copies had been printed with every newsagent bar one in the country receiving copies. The editor described the culmination of months and months of detailed planning as 'an unmitigated triumph'."

"There is clearly a very warm glow about the new paper among staff, buttressed by a surge of appreciation from many readers. But everyone knows that what ultimately counts is how many new readers it attracts."

The letters department received 800 emails from readers after the launch. Readers commented on problems with inky fingers, changes to science coverage and the new masthead, which several readers felt was outdated and too much like a regional newspaper.

But most complaints were about the pulling of the Doonesbury cartoon.

"The Guardian without Doonesbury is unthinkable, like a margarita without salt. If you can't find the space, I can't find the 60p," wrote 'Ben Kemp'.

"This is the Doonesbury which made national headlines in the UK last year when BD lost a leg? The Doonesbury which has been the first thing I've read in the paper for the past twenty five years? The Doonesbury which is at its strongest now for years? Put it back, and we'll say no more about it..." wrote 'Rupert Goodwins'.

Features editor Ian Katz, who was responsible for dropping the Doonesbury strip, admitted falling on his sword.

After explaining his decision in detail, he announced that as a result of the complaints he would be reinstating the strip from Monday.

"I'm sorry, once again, that I made you - and the hundreds of fellow fans who have called our helpline or mailed our comments address - so cross. The good news is that we now know just how strongly you feel about it and no damn fool features editor is going to mess with it - for at least 25 years."

Writing on his cityofsound blog, designer Dan Hill published a detailed review of the new format and praised the editors' blog for its transparency.

"The Editor's Blog has been refreshingly open and honest throughout, which is a real tribute to the paper. You get the feeling there's little they're holding back," wrote Mr Hill.

"Earlier this evening, features editor Ian Katz wrote: 'with 20 minutes to go G2's art director was still deliberating over what shade of purple to colour the new G2 logo'."

Mr Keegan also inadvertantly gave a story lead away on the editors' blog which was picked up by the Times.

"Foul play is afoot. I apparently gave too much information away about a story Richard Norton-Taylor was working on and the Times has picked it up (is there no honour?). I will be more discreet in future as a career move."

'Web feel'

Several readers described a 'web feel' to the newspaper with boxy presentation, front-page story teasers and a page width the same size as a standard computer screen.

Times Online's editorial director Peter Bale commented on the influence of web navigation in the paper's new design.

"It's an interesting theory, but I don't see anything groundbreaking that links to GU or any other site."

The design of the Guardian website itself will not change for now, according to GU editor-in-chief Emily Bell.

"There have been a lot of questions about whether the website will change in step with the paper, in terms of design," she wrote on the Guardian editors' blog.

"Obviously over time it is our intention to make the paper and the web as mutually supportive and reflective as possible, and all the paper's new content and sections can be found on the site. However GU's design will be staying as it is for the moment."

New editorial features include the Been There travel site which invites users to contribute tips and comments on their travel experiences. Selected contributions will feature in the print edition of the Guardian each Saturday.

The Guardian's special report on the launch includes a video introduction with editor Alan Rusbridger and other senior staff, TV ads for the launch and free digital editions of the new format until 26 September.

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