I didn’t start paying for the New York Times till sometime last year, and I didn’t start paying for the Financial Times till sometime this year and the reason is simple: their paywalls were rather porous. 20 articles a month with free headlines, the ability to click from social media, etc.
I love the two publications above and wanted to read it on the go. This is where the subscriptions started making more sense. Believe it or not, I like the physical paper better and do get it at most hotels that I stay at, but for those periods that I don’t, I crave for it. Hence the subscriptions to both.
Monthly/yearly payment options are being tried out by Andrew Sullivan.
Let’s not forget all sites that carry PayPal tip jar’s.
Why do I think its great for NYTimes/FT/etc. to start charging? Because its clear good quality content cannot be provided for and be created for free.
Once Netizens begin to start paying for content from these major players, it will help them understand that they have to pay for content for smaller/niche players. Call this conditioning. It can only mean that more people will enjoy paying for Byliner or Hacker Monthly or The Magazine.
Of course there’s no perfect login solution today. When I find a link from Twitter on my mobile that goes to Malaysiakini (which I also happily pay for), I see a paywall. I know I can head to The Malaysian Insider to find the same news without login details. I expect authentication technology will improve in the near future.
Overall, this is an exciting space to be in these days. Publishing is changing right in front of our eyes with a long-term view on being sustainable.