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Thanks for the link.  Good article - not that I'd be willing to pay for it!  Some excerps:

New York Times Should Charge for News, Google Too: Janet Guyon - Bloomberg

If he had to choose a newspaper to run successfully, it would either be one with a rich audience -- such as that of the New York Times -- and unique content, or the hometown paper with compelling news and local ads. "The hopeless case to me is a newspaper filled with generic, widely available content," he said in an interview.

Both models have something in common: they sell information that's not available elsewhere and that is targeted to a particular audience. While one source of revenue comes from advertising directed at this audience, there's no reason why content producers shouldn't charge consumers as well. That's called subscription. It's something publishers have been doing for decades.

Louis Vuitton

How much, where and when is determined by the competitive environment and how well a producer can distinguish his product in the mind of the consumer. That will be the challenge of the New York Times when it begins charging for online access next year.

"The issue is not how much people value access to a particular newspaper, but whether comparable content is available elsewhere for a cheaper price," says Varian.

Perhaps the most brilliant practitioner of getting people to overpay in a world of cheap knockoffs is Louis Vuitton, the luxury goods maker.

Louis Vuitton never goes on sale and charges $1,000 and up for a printed, plastic-coated canvas handbag. Last year, the company recorded revenue growth of at least 10 percent. Parent LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA earned almost 2 billion euros on 6.3 billion euros in revenue from fashion and leather goods purely via the allure that items sold in its shops were authentic artistic statements worth multiples more than very good copies found on the street corners of New York City.

I'm not sure I buy the Louis Vuitton analogy.  Sure, people will buy a book by, say Steven King, because of his name recognition and relatively unique content.  But a couple of bad books and the word will get around, and in any case: Is such individualised brand loyalty transferable to a corporation?

True - the same article quotes NYT execs saying that after 2 years they have a print subscriber hooked for life.  But is that also true on the web?  (I used to be a regular Irish Times Reader, almost cover to cover.  Now I dip in and out online as I would with many other sources, and do not ascribe especial value to the Irish Times.)

News is ubiquitous, personal or imaginative stories are not.  We live in a sea of news - why pay someone to pre-package it when Google and news feeds can do it so much better?  To build a successful brand you have to build an emotional attachment to it.  Someone might pay for the NYT because they have a good features section, but news?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 5th, 2010 at 07:03:04 AM EST
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