It’s hard to find a public square or industry forum at which publishers are not seen and heard wringing their collective hands about readers’ apparent unwillingness to pay for content, particularly online. I’d like to offer an example of a publication that I think does a pretty good job and has been rewarded for doing so.
I’ve subscribed to Crain’s New York Business for seven years. In 2002, the weekly publication charged $39.95 for a year’s subscription, a price it raised to $69.95 by the time I renewed in 2008 (perhaps mindful of the economy, it kept the price at $69.95 in 2009). That’s an increase of 75% in six years, or a compounded annual growth rate of about 12%. Not bad in an era of free content.
New York Business doesn’t stop there. You can subscribe to digital newsletters on subjects like the business of health care ($319 a year) or government and politics ($269 a year). You can sample the newsletters for a couple of weeks before buying – testimony to the value of their content.
The magazine also sells digital access to its various industry lists, generally updated annually.
I’d argue that the print publication can charge more because it provides relevant, timely and valued coverage of business issues in New York. Its beats are well-defined and generally well-reported, and it has embraced the model of delivering content in print, online and in person. The next time someone says people won’t pay for content, ask them about Crain’s New York Business.
Full disclosure: In 2005 and 2006 I consulted with AutoWeek, a Crain publication. I have not done any work with the company’s other publications, including New York Business.