Fired up the New York Times Reader today, to be greeted by a message:
This note is to let you know that the beta period will be ending in two weeks. Times Reader will launch as a subscription service on March 27. It will cost $14.95 a month or $165 a year.
Times Reader, you will recall, is a fantastic WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) application for reading online content. It works offline and nicely demonstrates how rich Internet applications can improve on web browsers.
In one sense I have no quibble with the price. I believe journalism is worth paying for; and $15.00 a month is not excessive.
Unfortunately it’s not good value for me, nor I suspect for many others who have tried the beta. For starters, I’m in the UK which makes much of what is in the NYT of less interest. Second, I have access to a ton of free content – starting perhaps with bbc.co.uk along with innumerable blogs – and I don’t have time to read as much of that as I would like. The subscription model makes no sense for this kind of general content.
The NYT would do better to continue providing free Reader content. Give subscribers some extras like premium content, or earlier access to articles, or less intrusive advertising.
I understand the pressures though. It’s an unsolved problem.