New York Times to Erect Pay Wall

By Paul Riegler on 17 March 2011
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Starting March 28, the New York Times will charge readers for digital subscriptions to the paper.  Unlike the Wall Street Journal, which has an excellent iPad app and a well thought out subscription price, the New York Times has a below par iPad app and a subscription price that is far more expensive.

“The metered service debuted in Canada today to enable us to fine-tune the customer experience before our global launch,” Arthur Sulzberger Jr. chief executive of New York Times Co. and publisher of the Times, wrote in a letter to readers.

Here’s the deal: if you want full digital access to the New York Times, you can pay $455 – or you can pay half of that or less (details in a moment).  Why the disparity?  It’s quite simple.  Subscribers to the print edition of the New York Times get free access – even if you don’t actually read the paper that lands in front of your door.  (If you just want Web site and smartphone access, however, it’s $195 per year and Web site plus tablet access is $208 per year.)

In the New York metropolitan area, the Times charges $3.10 per week for Monday through Friday deliveries, which is the cheapest option.  With the introductory rate for 12 weeks, and the standard rate of $6.20 per week thereafter, this translates to $322.40 per year. (The price is significantly higher outside of the New York area I should mention.)

So for one year, one year of the print edition PLUS full digital access would cost $409.20 – $11.80 less than digital access alone.

By contrast, the Wall Street Journal charges non-print edition subscribers a little over $100 for one year of full online access in the first year (year two would be $155) and has one of the best iPad apps for news and information around.

There are some ways in which you can keep the cost of the New York Times digital edition down.

The New York Times allows readers of the print edition to suspend their accounts for vacations and other periods of time when they are away from home.  In an extreme case, a reader could simply suspend his print account for the equivalent of half a year each year and we surmise that you will get two years of access for the price of one year’s print subscription.  (You can’t, however, place your digital subscription on hold for vacations, according to the New York Times’ FAQ.)

In addition, although it is not yet available, the Times will allow subscribers to the print edition to link additional digital accounts to a single home delivery account.  Also, subscribers to the print edition of the International Herald Tribune will receive free access to the Times’ Web site.

Finally, be aware of a major gotcha: if you already have a subscription to the Times on your Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader, there is no way to connect that subscription to the digital plan so you will have to pay separately if you want it on the Web or on your smartphone.

If you don’t subscribe, you can still read up to 20 articles per month, and articles reached through other sources such as search engines and blogs will count towards the 20 free articles.  If you surpass the monthly limit, you can still read articles if you were sent to the Times from one of these sources.  Articles linked from Google are limited to five per day so if you want to read more of the Times, just use Bing.

–Paul Riegler is Technology Editor of Executive Road Warrior.

Accura News

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