Monday, May 04, 2009

Newsprint has Many Challenges and Maybe a Kindle 3

Price Increases

As it tries to grapple with industry-wide a significant drop in advertising revenues and circulation, The New York Times is expected to announce a newsstand price increase in the coming days. The market predicts that the New York Times could increase its price 25% from $1.50 to $2.00 for Monday to Saturday editions and 20% from $5 to $6 on Sundays. A bold move and a bold increase, especially considering it raised its cover price of its Monday to Saturday editions by 20% or 25 cents to $1.50 only last year.

The NYT is not alone in price increases with the Wall Street Journal raising the cover price by 50 cents in each of the last two years and the Financial Times implemented 50 cent increases in US cover prices in 2005, 2007 and 2008. The Boston Globe raised its weekday cover price to 75 cents from 50 cents and is expected to rise to $1 within the city and $1.50 outside Greater Boston. The Sunday Globe will rise to $3.50 in the city and $4 elsewhere.

iPhone Free

Despite charging for its website and print version, The Wall Street Journal has a new iPhone application that is free. The technology platform to enable the app to be charged isn’t live yet and may not be up until the second half of the year! It will be interesting to watch them wean free users onto subscriptions but until then the content remains free on both their Blackberry and iPhone apps and charged elsewhere.

More Closures and Lay Offs

The New York Times is planning to notify federal authorities of its plans to shut down the Boston Globe and the newspaper could cease to exist within weeks. The paper's circulation has dropped 14% in the last six-month period and is expected to lose $85 million this year. If union negotiations fail to deliver additional savings then the axe may fall and its fate follow that of the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Kindle 3?

On the Digital front, Amazon has announced that will hold a press conference on Wednesday morning at a Pace University building New York. What is special about the news conference? First its on the site of the old New York Times offices and secondly its is widely predicted the announcement will launch K3, a Kindle with a larger screen.

Why a bigger screen and why the Pace location? Again it’s widely predicted the K3 is their answer to the newsprint and magazine sector – a larger screen Kindle. Amazon needs to head off Plastic Logic and the rest of the larger readers and try to capture those digital subscriptions today and not wait for others to take them. Are the NYT involved or merely a spectator -we will discover on Wednesday.

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