Here’s a situation where it’s a pleasant perk to be a Kindle user. This week, the New York Times implemented a system called the paywall. It’s an interesting system they’ve come up with to be able to make some money from their digital deliveries. Readers will be able to access their first 20 news articles each month for free, and the subscription fee beyond that will be based on the device or devices that the user prefers to access their content on.
People who get their Times delivered to the front door in paper format will still get all the fun online stuff free as a perk. Everybody else will get their set number of views and be faced with a decision. If you want to be able to grab your news on a Smartphone, that’s $15 each month. Tablet users will be billed $20 each month. Anybody who wants the whole package for both types of device can expect to be paying $35. These packages all include access to the website through any computer you happen to be sitting at, of course. The extra charges are for the apps that make it more convenient and enjoyable. Nobody really likes going through the website when they don’t have to, right?
While it sounds complicated and more than a little annoying, most people won’t notice a difference. It seems that if you’re directed to a story via a link through a social network like Facebook or Twitter or even just a random blog, then you’re all good. It doesn’t count beyond the normal limit of 20. Unless you’re somebody who really loves the NYT site, and therefore probably exactly the sort of person they feel justified in asking a reasonable fee from, the fact that people are constantly linking these stories takes care of you.
Kindle users who have an existing subscription to the Times, however, are just fine. While those who have subscriptions on other eReading devices are out of luck, the NYT plans to acknowledge all Kindle subscribers and allow them complete access to the site along the lines of that being offered to people receiving the paper at home. Not a bad deal.
While many are skeptical about how useful a move this will be for the Times, especially in light of their previous unsuccessful attempt to create a for-pay section of their website, the extremely open nature of the plan is intriguing and shows an awareness of what brings readers to them in the first place. Everybody who wants to will be able to share with their friends. The site itself keeps track of things for you completely openly. You even get access to an extra five free articles a day beyond the set limit when you use a search engine to find them.
I can completely understand wanting to incentivize the subscription plans, but it’s hard not to acknowledge that there’s a great deal of bending going on to make sure this isn’t a big inconvenience that could drive readers away. Even those unlucky enough to have to deal with non- Kindle eReader NYT subscriptions will likely still get everything they want with little trouble.