wasting bandwidth since 1999

What Would You Pay For That Brand of Information?

Evidentially, there’s a big fight going on at the New York Times over how much to charge for the new digital edition being prepared to launch when the iPad goes on sale next month.

The people currently in charge of the paper version want to charge $20 – $30 a month.

Why so much? Because they’re said to be afraid people will cancel the print paper if they can get the same thing on their iPad. Nevermind that iPad distribution comes with none of the paper or delivery costs associated with print, or that there’s already a free electronic edition available to subscribers who cancel.

On the other side are the folks running the Times’ online edition who are pushing a price of $10 a month, still much higher than the current web site (free), which owners plan to pull behind a pay wall in 2011 regardless of the iPad.

Realistically, anyone at the Times who believes they can persuade a meaningful number of subscribers (that is, enough to save the business) to give them $30 a month for a digital version of their paper is crazy.

I’m not sure they’ll be able to find enough readers, especially outside the New York metro area, willing to pay $10.

The bottom line is that the owners of the Times (and other distributors of data) are selling a package of not-particularly-unique information to which they attach their particular brand.

And they need to seriously consider if that package is one that consumers will pay to have delivered, digitally or otherwise, on a regular schedule.

So, what would you pay for regular access to a brand-name digital information package (aka newspapers and magazines)?

I suspect the owners of those packages have a much higher opinion of their brands than do most of the people formerly known as customers.


  1. Mark Rippy

    As a digital subscriber to both the NYTimes and the Washington Post, $10 to $15 a month is it for me. Currently you can get either of these papers in that price range on the Kindle or on your computer. I particularly like the digital NYTimes using Adobe Air. The software for the Post uses PressReader which works OK on a PC and lousy on a Mac. But I digress. More than $10 or $15 a month and you’d lose me as a subscriber.

  2. T. J. Hart

    As a Canadian living and working in South East Asia, I do like to read the NY Times. However most of my news comes via Google News. If the NY Times disappears behind a firewall there would be little impact for me. BBC, PBS News, St. Pete’s Times, Globe and Mail, CBC News. Well you get the idea. Lots of other options for free.

    Maybe they have been drinking the Murdoch Koolaid. WSJ is not the same as the NYTimes. IMHO they will pay a heavy price should they do as they say they are going to do. My question is why are they waiting? If their current setup is losing money, why not switch right now? Is this just a bluff?

    See what John Gruber has to say: http://daringfireball.net/2009/07/pay_walls
    I tend to agree with him.

  3. Dave

    As a daily Google News reader, I would pay $10/month for a Google News-style aggregator that didn’t have all the poor-quality local papers’ re-writes of AP, Reuters, and other wire stories.

    Basically, I want these sources:
    – AP
    – Reuters
    – BBC (international/US news, without local UK stuff)
    – The two local papers of the two nearest big cities to me.

    I will not pay for anything that has:
    – video links (skimming text is fast, skimming video for details is not possible)
    – news from local TV station websites
    – ANY re-written wire stories

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