A Better Letter To New York Times Readers About Digital Subscriptions

Today, the New York Times is taking a major step forward as we introduce digital subscriptions in the United States and the rest of the world. Since we first announced the plan 11 days ago, we’ve heard from so many of you, our readers. We’ve also heard from a bunch of noisy bloggers, but they just rip us off anyway, so we’re ignoring them.

We’re grateful for the feedback from our loyal readers (not those blogger brats) and, most of all, for your commitment to the The Times. So grateful, indeed, that we think you should start paying us, even though we’ll still be showing you all those ads.

As you may know, on March 17, we introduced digital subscriptions in Canada. That’s because we figured, “Who gives a crap if the Canadians complain?” Plus, Canadians are known for being pretty polite. We figured we’d be good there.

Officially, the Canadian launch allowed us to test our systems and fine-tune the user interface and customer experience. Today, we are launching globally. I know, I said that already in my lead, but I enjoy repetition.

Memorize These Print Subscription Costs!

If you are a home delivery subscriber of The Times [we like to say “The Times” as if there are no other “Times” newspapers out there], you will continue to have full and free access to our news, information, opinion and other features on your computer, smartphone and tablet. International Herald Tribune subscribers will also receive free access to NYTimes.com.

We have three home delivery options, so you’ll pay:

  • $193 for Monday-Friday delivery
  • $270 for Friday-Sunday delivery
  • $385 for all seven days in the week

Now memorize those figures, that we’ve shoved over on a page where they’re only accessible after you enter a ZIP code, and where you can’t easily compare them to our three different digital subscription prices. As a news publication, we wouldn’t want to make any of this stuff easy. We can do interactive graphics on elections, nuclear meltdowns but our pricing plans? Maybe we’ll do a flowchart in the future.

If you are not a home delivery subscriber, you will have free access to 20 articles (including slide shows, videos and other features) each month.

By the way, because we break our stories up into two, three or more “pages” on the web for no other reason to shove more ads your way, you won’t really get 20 “articles” but rather 20 page views. Bonus tip: even if you use the “print” option to view an article in one single page, that will have cost you a second click.

Our 20 Article “Limit” [Chuckle]

If you go over those 20 articles, you’ll be asked to become a digital subscriber. You won’t be able to view any more articles on our site, sorry. No ifs, ands or buts. Except…

If you use our smartphone or tablet apps, the Top News section will remain free. But that’s it! Except….

If you come through links from search engines, blogs and social media, you’ll be able to read any article, even if you’ve used up your 20 limit already. Except….

If you come to the site through ANY link, you’ll be able to read any article, even if it’s not a link from search engines, blogs or social media sites. Except….

If you come from search engines, even though we already said you’ll be able to read any article even if you’ve hit your 20 per month limit, we actually meant any article except if you’ve already read five articles via search engines on that day. Get it? No? Yeah, it makes our heads hurt, too.

Why are search engine links so special? The short story is we’re pretty messed up about all this stuff. The long story, well, there’s a link below.

People Who Don’t Know We Exist [Shudder] Deserve Freebies

We’re doing all this, giving away all this free access, because we don’t think “new” and “casual” users will:

  • Cough up the same money that you, our loyal users will
  • Or link to us giving us all those ad views that we earn money from, but not enough money, apparently

Our home page and all section fronts will remain free to browse for all users at all times. That’s because those new and casual freeloaders never come to our home page or section pages. But our regular users do, and we hope you’ll keep doing that, use up your free clicks and pay to get rid of a barrier that a 12 year old child could figure out.

Real Readers Whip Out Their Wallets

But you’re not 12. You’re 55, and paying the money is worth it to you. Pity you’re not really our future, though. Then again, we’ll be long gone before that issue gets even worse. Let those suck-head social media yapping editors and reporters deal with it, when their time comes around, they think they’re so smart.

Memorize These Digital Subscription Costs!

How about those digital options? Well, you can buy:

  • $195 for web and smartphone app access
  • $260 for web and tablet app access
  • $455 for web, smartphone & tablet app access

Killing Trees Saves Us $70 Per Person In Journalism Production Costs

Now I hear you asking yourself. Is it true? I can get a human being to throw a hard copy of the New York Times on my porch seven days a week for $385 — and that comes with digital access on ANY device — but if I just want digital access, it costs me $70 more?

Yes. You see, despite all our yapping that we don’t make enough money off digital visitors, if we can just throw more paper copies on porches that people don’t actually read, we still make money, because we can continue to sell overpriced print ads to all our print advertisers as if they are somehow more valuable unseen on dead trees than when viewed through electronic pixels.

Displaying Content In Tablet Apps Costs $65 More In Journalism Production Costs

I hear you asking, why should I pay $65 more to view the exact same content on my tablet app versus my smartphone app.

Um, because we can do that? Look, we don’t really have much control over all this digital stuff, so we take what we can get.

Access To Both Tablets & Smartphones Costs $260 More In Journalism Production Costs

And I hear you asking, why’s it cost $260 per year more to view things on both your smartphone and your tablet?

Again, because we can. Why don’t you just take the paper edition, smart ass?

Coming In Next Week’s Wall Street Journal, A Guide To The New York Times Paywall

As you have seen during this recent period of extraordinary global news, The Times is uniquely positioned to keep you informed. Except about all these plans, and how they make much sense. In that regard, we’re banking on a convoluted system that will let anyone who doesn’t want to pay to keep reading whatever they want while those who don’t know better, or those who figure “What the hell, I just want that nag screen to go away,” to pay.

What, still got questions? Here, go read these: