Sunday, March 1, 2009

This morning, while enjoying the sun in my parent's backyard, my dad handed over the business section of the L.A. Times. That's right - handed it to me, so that I could read David Lazarus' Sunday column
advocating the iTunes model of economic sustainability for newspapers:

"When Napster and similar file-sharing services debuted about a decade ago, people said the music industry was dead because consumers would no longer pay for sounds. Then Steve Jobs and iTunes arrived, and the music industry was reborn (more or less).

I feel the same way about newspapers, all that genie-out-of-the-bottle talk notwithstanding. Yes, the Internet's eating our lunch. And, yes, that's because we served it up ourselves. But let's talk about now.

Unlike the proposal I put forth in my last post, Lazarus recommends an even better solution: have the papers band together to form a consortium ("the more the merrier") and offer an online subscription. The SF Chronicle says they might start charging for online access, but somehow, it doesn't seem as worth it in comparison to paying for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal (which does charge), or better, a consortium of papers.

Currently, it costs $1.44/week to get a daily, print-edition of the L.A. Times delivered to your doorstep -- that's $6.25 a month and $75 for the year. If you subtract the production and delivery cost, an online subscription would only be that much cheaper. Of course, maybe when 3G phones finish taking over the world and clunky computers become obsolete, people will once again be willing to fork it out for simple luxuries, like reading the paper.

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