It seems the New York Times (NYT) may be taking us up on our idea to save money by shutting down the paper and offering subscribers a free Kindle instead. (They really would save money–we did the maths).
Amazon’s Big Kindle press release suggests that the NYT will offer Big Kindles at a subsidized price for readers who sign up for a long-term NYT-on-Kindle subscription. Specifically, based on the headline, it sounds as though the NYT will throw in a Kindle if you buy a subscription:
The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post to
Launch Trials Offering Kindle DX to Subscribers Who Live in Areas
Where Home Delivery is Not Available
We’ve asked for details, and we’ll update when we get them. In the meantime, it’s worth noting two things:
- If this offer is limited to folks who can’t get the paper, it is presumably because the economics are worse for the company than they would be if the same folks bought a print paper instead. Here’s why that would be…
- At first blush, it looks as though the Big Kindle might save the New York Times–big screen, big ads, subscription fee, etc. Unfortunately, it probably won’t. Why not? Because the Kindle has something that the newspaper never had: Accountability. Specifically, Kindle advertisers will presumably be able to learn whether or not their ads were viewed, which they can’t with the print paper. Our assumption is that the vast majority of newspaper ads are never even glanced at. Advertisers put up with this because they didn’t know about it and they had no other options. On the Kindle, they’ll know. And they have other options.
Lastly, this deal is yet another indication that the NYT is nuts to offer the paper for free online. Why do that when you can collect money from print and Kindle subscribers for the content? Why would you give these folks a way to get that content without paying you for it, especially when online ad revenues are so pitiful relative to print ads?