Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Economist misses point on digital publishing

It came time today to renew my subscription to one of my favourite publications, The Economist. But I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I looked at the options. Economics is largely about making rational purchasing decisions and they've blown it with their digital pricing...

For most of last year I was reading each week's edition on my iPhone screen; then I fell in love with the digital version on the iPad and devoured it as soon as each new edition is pushed automatically to me each week. My paper copy rarely made it out of the packaging before it hit the recycle bin ... What a waste!

So, on renewal, I was all set to select the digital-only option and say goodbye to paper. But there is no price difference!

That's madness: there are no additional costs of reproduction and distribution once the first digital edition is prepared. The Economist carries lower costs and a higher margin on their digital-only products - those savings should be passed on to consumers in somewhat lower prices. I'm happy to pay for their high quality journalism, but not give them all the extra profit when I'm saving the costs of producing, packing and shipping the physical product ...

So I did the rational thing: I ordered the print + digital version, knowing that I probably will never use the physical copy myself. At best, I'll pass it on to a friend who can't pay / won't pay for his own copy. The Economist will probably be happy to have an additional (non-paying) reader; but in the process I'm not impressed at their mis-handling of the new media landscape.
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