The New York Times Paywall and the Death of eBook Reader Subscriptions

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The New York Times Paywall and the Death of eBook Reader Subscriptions Listen to this article

The New York Times Paywall and the Death of eBook Reader Subscriptions

The New York Times paywall makes a decent effort to bridge app-based subscriptions with physical papers and online access, but there’s one glaring exception: eBookstores (except Amazon’s Kindle) are being cut out of the fun. It’s looking like Amazon was able to cut a special deal, but everyone else (mainly B&N and Kobo) are not included in any such offerings, which is a slap in the face to the users who have been voluntarily paying for an electronic version of the New York Times.

It just boggles my mind, since there’s really no downside to allowing these subscribers to have online access. Maybe there is not a significant base of users, in which case offering them online access is a goodwill gesture more than anything. And even if there’s actually a huge community of people who love reading the New York Times on their NOOKcolor, why are you denying perks to the people who were paying for the paper long before it was compulsory?

For reference, B&N and Kobo charge $19.99 for a month of the New York Times. The digital subscriptions range from $15 to $35, so $20 isn’t outside the norm. In fact, if the New York Times really wanted to, they could probably set two tiers of pricing, $19.99 for purely eReader subscriptions and, say, $24.99 including the online access. The point is, they could make it work but they just aren’t.

Sadly, it doesn’t look good for B&N and Kobo. When I reached out to B&N’s PR, the answer I received was “We have no announcements at this time.” This, to me, indicates that eBookstores selling subscriptions may still be second class citizens in the grander scheme of magazines and newspapers. The Wall Street Journal has maintained a paywall for some time, and there is no carryover to the eBookstore subscriptions either. With two major newspapers now treating eReader subscriptions differently than tablet ones, it doesn’t bode well for any other periodicals extending online benefits to eReader consumers. It’s disappointing, and I hope it’s a trend that changes quickly.

All this just further lowers any incentive to subscribe to newspapers and magazines through eBookstores, at least for me. What’s your take on this? Do you currently subscribe to any newspapers on your Kindle, NOOK or Kobo, or is this a non-issue for you? Share your thoughts below!

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?