Friday, March 18, 2011

Content sellers: Sell the content…

…not the means of access.

Yesterday the New York Times announced their long-anticipated paywall pricing scheme. Per four weeks:

  • $15 for web site and mobile phone app
  • $20 for web site and tablet app
  • $35 for web site, mobile phone, and tablet

You read that right. If you want to read the same stories on your iPhone and your iPad, you have to pay full price for each. No discount. You even get to pay for the web access twice!

This is ridiculous.

If you’re selling content, sell the content. Stop nickel-and-diming us for every different means of accessing it. Nobody likes that. Amazon’s Kindle platform gets it right. Tell me how much I have to pay to read your stories, and let me read them from whatever device is convenient.

Charging full price for each additional access mode is even worse. Accessing the same content two ways is not twice as valuable as accessing it one way. Cooks Illustrated does the same thing thing, and it’s always pissed me off. I want to read the new, printed magazine in bed, and I want electronic access to the recipe and review archive. But, no, if I want both of these things, I have to pay full price for each. There’s no discount for bundling.

Publishers have seen the downside to digital distribution, as their revenues decline. It’s time to embrace the upside, the near-zero marginal cost of delivery, and give readers what they want.

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