Roger Ebert is on a roll recently. He was profiled in Esquire. Appeared on Oprah. And got his voice back. Now the Pulitzer Prize winning film critic has stumbled back into the spotlight… and using it to launch a new web-based premium content service.
Ebert wants to keep his reviews and blogs free. But for $4.99 a year, users can join “The Ebert Club,” a kind of inner circle readership. They get exclusive RSS and Twitter feeds, newsletters, private discussion threads and occasional “Special Pages” for club members only. Ebert writes: “We’re open to your suggestions about live chats for Club members only and things like that.”
Users can sign up here.
Will users pay up? Certainly, some will be willing to sign up and help Ebert, whom they have grown to know and love on the Web and during many years of movie criticism. Other sites like Conde Nast’s Ars Technica have more expensive premium memberships, with even more features that bring in small revenue streams. But this will be a direct payment from reader to writer.
Ebert seems to have realistic expectations of the program in a separate entry titled “I wonder if this will work:”
“As you know, micropayments went nowhere. In 2009 Google unveiled a plan to run them through Google Checkout. We will see. The web that we surf every day is not paying for itself, and we sure as hell aren’t paying for it. You read me for free, and I read everybody else for free. This is not news. To save you the bother of reading to the end of this entry, I don’t have a brilliant new scheme for changing things.”
But he’s willing to experiment.
Here’s more from his invitation.
Membership in the club will not be expensive. Through March, we’ll have a special introductory rate of $4.99 for a year’s membership. After April 1, the price will shoot up to $5. No, this is not an April Fool’s joke. April 1 is the date I was appointed movie critic of the Sun-Times,
and I plan to live it up.
Your membership benefits will include:
1. The site’s RSS/Newsletter feed, which Includes quick clickable links to all my new reviews and other site content. (Full disclosure: This will also continue to be free).
2. Quick links to my Special Pages for Twitter. These are free-standing web pages I create on the spur of a notion.
3. Quick links to new postings on Roger Ebert’s Journal and Jim Emerson’s Scanners.
4. Selected @ebertchicago, winnowed to improve the signal to noise ratio. All the joys of following my Twitter stream, from the comfort of your inbox.
5. A private discussion thread for Club members. This will resemble one of the comment threads on my Journal, but its URL will be made available to members only.
6. The Web Report: Unexpected and delightful web discoveries. I find links myself. Readers send me amazing pages. As a club member, we will not bother you with anything dumb.
7. Occasional Special Pages for club members only.
8. Advance notice of Ebertfest tickets going on sale. The festival sells out early every year. At Ebertfest, I’ll hold a meet-and-greet for club members.
9. You will be helping enormously to support this web site. Well, that’s worth something, isn’t it?
10. We’re open to your suggestions about live chats for Club members only and things like that.
Click on the link below if you’d like to join us.
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