Time Magazine's New Paywall? Buy The Paper Version Or The iPad Version To Read

from the limiting-consumers-is-not-how-you-succeed dept

In a move apparently designed to remind people just how pointless Time Magazine can be at times, the company has started implementing a sort of hidden paywall, in that it’s publishing only excerpts of most of its articles online with the latest issue. Instead, if you go to various Time Magazine articles, it tells you that you should go buy the paper copy, or pay for the iPad version. This isn’t quite a direct paywall, since there’s no way to directly pay online for the content. Instead, you first need to pay up for an iPad or take a trip to the store to get a paper copy of the magazine. Talk about the antithesis of embracing what the digital era allows. Time Magazine apparently thinks it’s wise to opt-out of letting people actually share your content with each other. It seems to be rejecting the concept of valuable “passed” or “earned links,” despite plenty of evidence as to how important it is. On top of that, Time Magazine seems to think that not putting its content online where people want to see it will actually drive people to find it in other formats, rather than driving people to either other destinations or to “unauthorized” versions of the content. If I were running a Time competitor… say the massively struggling Newsweek, I would be all over the place telling people that my content is available online for all of you who don’t want to conform to Time’s view of how you have to read a general news magazine.

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Comments on “Time Magazine's New Paywall? Buy The Paper Version Or The iPad Version To Read”

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28 Comments
Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Funny

“Some publishers seem to have a death wish. it’s that simple.”

The whole death wish seems to be endemic of the entire content industry. Everything they are doing seems to be designed to paint themselves into a corner and cause their demise.

“Mike, maybe you can offer these poor, deluded people a psychotherapy session Techdirt style. You know, teach them how to share and be nicer with other people- it would be like kindergarten all over again.”

If you have had any experience with people in an industry at this stage of collapse, and about to go under, you would know therapy and talk wont help them. The people remaining in these industries are the diehards, they are the true believers and profiteers.

David Muir (profile) says:

Short-Term Thinking?

“Short-term thinking” might be very charitable way to describe this move. So many businesses seem to be making decisions about how to bump profits now, regardless of what it does to future prospects. Slashing expenses has been happening in all sectors, but especially in news publishing — to the detriment of quality. Now they are trying out the paywall and other desperate theories about increasing revenue.

We know it is doomed to failure. In fact, most of the evidence we’ve seen indicates that it won’t even provide a short-term increase: the digital generation will zip past to find alternative sources and any older generation person trying out online access to their favorite musty old magazine will merely be frustrated that they could have just started with the paper version. I think the jury is still out on how iPad will figure into things (Apple continues to surprise me).

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Short-Term Thinking?

“I think the jury is still out on how iPad will figure into things (Apple continues to surprise me)”

Steve Jobs sold the Music industry a bill of goods a couple years back. With the sales pitch, the iPod and iTunes will save the music industry. This is history, history repeats itself, most people don’t notice.

Here is the question … What sort of bill of goods do you think Steve Jobs sold the News Papers? What was the sales pitch?

… Mr Murdoch, we are going to be introducing a new device. Its called the iPad it can save the NewsPaper industry …

Steve Jobs, job is to make money for Apple, not the Record Labels, not the TV Studios, not the Movie Studios, and definitely not to make money for the NewsPapers. The iPad will be a failure over the long term for paid NewsPapers and Magazines.

Anonymous Coward says:

I sincerely don’t understand what do they expect to win with hiding information.

What do they expect? That people come crawling to them, begging for news? People will just get the news from somewhere else.

Economically, it makes no sense. They aren’t giving anything worth buying. They’re just taking something that used to be free and putting a price on it. Something that, by the way, remains free somewhere else.

Mojo says:

not at 4.99

I downloaded the TIME app to my iPad and was prepared to pay for a digital issue to check it out… then I saw it cost $4.99.

Fail. Sorry, guys, I’m not paying the newstand price for a digital version of your magazine (or a newspaper, or comic book for that matter).

Yes, I know the price isn’t just about the material it’s printed on, it goes to pay reporters, editors, rent, etc… but the cost of printing and distributing counts for SOMETHING, and I think most people expect a digital version of anything to cost less than the “hard copies.”

At the very least, offer digital downloads at the subscription rate, which is clearly the lowest you can afford to sell at.

At $4.99, you’re just not going to get a lot of repeat business.

At .99, you’ll probably sell a ton, and get a lot more eyes on your ads.

And isn’t that what it’s all about? To be able to tell your advertisers “hey, since we went digital a million more people are looking at your ads! You now need to pay X% more to be included in the digital magazazine.”

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

When music went digital, it immediately cost less than physical CDs, which is part of the reason it was a success.

Why is print ignoring this lesson?

andrei.timoshenko says:

journalists need to eat too

Journalism costs money to produce and provides benefits to others. It must be remunerated somehow. Maybe not in the way Time is trying, but somehow – it is both unsustainable and unfair for journalists to be paid nothing for their efforts.

Time is experimenting by doing something stupid because no one has yet figured out how to cover the costs of expensive, original journalism (as opposed to low cost bloviating on the Internet, almost always using material from other sources).

Advertising has proven that it can cover these costs only in very, very specific circumstances – the world is not high school, the value of popularity and ‘eyeballs’ is pretty damn low. For the most part, advertising is also a not very positive and productive utilization of human effort – to have our economy become 50%-60% driven by advertising would be a tragedy, yet that is what would need to happen if all knowledge-related activities were to become end-user free and ad-supported. Besides, advertising only pays because it gets people to buy stuff they otherwise would not have bought. If people start demanding that more and more things become free, advertising revenues (and the ability of advertisers to reward content producers) will collapse.

Something needs to change – the question is what?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: journalists need to eat too

Journalism costs money to produce and provides benefits to others

Who said otherwise?

It must be remunerated somehow.

Again, who said otherwise?

it is both unsustainable and unfair for journalists to be paid nothing for their efforts.

Again, seriously, who are you arguing against? No one said that journalist should be paid nothing.

But let’s be honest here: journalists have ALWAYS been paid by advertising revenue, NOT subscription revenue with a few very limited exceptions (hint: Time is not one of them).

Time is experimenting by doing something stupid because no one has yet figured out how to cover the costs of expensive, original journalism (as opposed to low cost bloviating on the Internet, almost always using material from other sources).

Wait, really? Then who’s been paying for all that expensive original journalism?

Advertising has proven that it can cover these costs only in very, very specific circumstances

Or most circumstances, but okay.

the world is not high school, the value of popularity and ‘eyeballs’ is pretty damn low.

And if all you’re doing is selling eyeballs you’re doing it wrong.

For the most part, advertising is also a not very positive and productive utilization of human effort – to have our economy become 50%-60% driven by advertising would be a tragedy

Again, 90+% of journalism has been paid for by advertising for decades.

No one is saying the entire *ECONOMY* should be driven by advertising.

Separately, no one is saying that advertising is the only way to pay for journalism. But what we ARE saying is that paywalls are not the way to pay for journalism.

Something needs to change – the question is what?

You should have come to our event, Techdirt Saves* Journalism: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100621/0327579886.shtml

abc gum says:

Re: journalists need to eat too

“Journalism costs money to produce and provides benefits to others. It must be remunerated”

Surely you are not suggesting that I should pay because someone else has benefited from said journalism, even though I have not seen nor hear of said journalism.

“it is both unsustainable and unfair for journalists to be paid nothing for their efforts.”

Even when no one is interested in their product?

“low cost bloviating “

And expensive “professional” journalists do not foam at the mouth or spew total BS … yeah right. Time is well known for just that.

“Advertising has proven that it can cover these costs only in very, very specific circumstances”

Really? Where have you been – under a rock?

“the world is not high school”

Thank you Captian Obvious. btw, nice soap box you got there.

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