I have an interest in this question because I publish both a free and a for-pay newsletter on the web. I always wonder if my prices are too high or too low. However, larger publications often charge much, much more.
Starting March 28, the New York Times will charge anyone who wishes to read more than 20 articles a month on the newspaper's web site. If you want unlimited grazing rights for Times content online, you now have to fork over $195 a year; that’s for the basic website and access on BlackBerry, iPhones or other smartphones. The cost rises to $260 if you want website and iPad access, and $455 for every form of digital access. In other words, read as many articles as you like on any digital device that can access the web. The complete list of devices is a bit more complex than what I mentioned briefly; full details are available at http://www.nytimes.com/content/help/account/purchases/subscriptions-and-purchases.html#purchasesq01
Anyone who subscribes to the regular print version will also receive a free All Digital Access subscription.
The newspaper's owners obviously are trying to give enough access to nonsubscribers so that readers (called potential subscribers) will still be encouraged to visit the site. However, these readers will also know that the free ride is over and hopefully will be encouraged to sign up for greater access.
I suspect that most newspaper companies are hoping the Times will succeed so that thousands of other newspapers can jump on the digital subscription bandwagon. With a few exceptions, such as The Wall Street Journal, newspapers have been giving the entire paper away online, which, of course, depresses print circulation, and the Web ads it generates are worth only a fraction of plain old newspaper advertisements in print.
Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is calling this change one of the most significant business changes in the Times’s 159-year history: “Our decision to begin charging for digital access will result in another source of revenue, strengthening our ability to continue to invest in the journalism and digital innovation on which our readers have come to depend.”
You can read the full announcement at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/18/opinion/l18times.html?_r=1
The Times is gambling that there are enough news junkies out there willing to pay and won't switch to the (free) Washington Post, L.A. Times, Huffington Post, or a thousand other websites.
The price strikes me as much too high. Those prices don't even include anything left over to line your bird cage. However, I will be watching the developments closely in the next few months.
What do you think? Will you pay these fees to access the New York Times?