Interesting to note that Joel Kramer, editor of the community Web site MinnPost, is also thinking about premium pricing for the print editions of newspapers. Here’s what he writes at the New York Times’ blog Room for Debate:
I do think there is a strategy that might keep a high-quality regional newspaper modestly profitable in the future: Rely much more on revenue from readers. Publish a newspaper worth $2 a day, the price of a cup of coffee, and $5 on Sunday. Raise the quality. Make it more in-depth, more analytical, to complement the immediacy of your free Web site, and do not make that deeper, more insightful coverage available for free on the web. Perhaps make the printed product a tailored mix of sections that appeal to different readers: For $2, you get to pick, say, four sections out of six.
Obviously, circulation would drop. A newspaper that sold 400,000 copies at 50 cents daily and $1.25 on Sunday might sell only 100,000 at four times the price. But there would be a business incentive to keep quality high, because each extra copy sold should increase profit, not subtract from it.
He adds: “I think it has a better chance than going Web-only and charging for the content.” I agree. On Thursday, I floated a similar idea.
Question: If the Boston Globe (or any major metro) raised its prices to $2 on weekdays and $5 on Sundays, what sorts of print-only content would induce you to pay for it rather than simply reading it online? What other services should it make available to paying subscribers?