As best as I can figure out, it will soon be cheaper to get access to all of the New York Times’ digital products and the Sunday print edition too than it will to go paperless. Let’s run down the math.
Every three months, Media Nation Central pays $97.50 for home delivery of the Sunday Times. Under the new pay scheme announced last week, that entitles us to free access to most of the Times’ electronic delivery options: NYTimes.com, Times Reader, and apps for smartphones and tablets. (Kindle and Nook editions aren’t included in any of the just-announced options.)
On the other hand, if we don’t get the print edition at all, it will cost us $35 every four weeks for the same electronic package. That’s $113.75 every three months, or $16.25 more than getting the identical range of products plus the Sunday paper. That’s a markup of nearly 17 percent.
Now, Times executives have every incentive in the world to push the Sunday paper: it’s where most of the advertising revenue comes from. I’ve been told that the Boston Globe makes as much as two-thirds of its money from the Sunday paper. It’s probably about the same at the Times.
Still, it seems odd that the Times has deliberately set up a system under which you get more if you pay less — although, granted, I’m not factoring in the cost of tips, which should bring the price of paper-plus-electronic to somewhat more than electronic-only.