The thump of your morning newspaper landing at your doorstep, the stop to chat at the newsstand on your way to the office, the latest issue of your favorite magazine in your mailbox are going, going, gone…faster than a new, in the box, Barbie doll on eBay. What’s happening?
The giants of print publishing are falling like dominoes. According to the latest news from UPI, The New York Times Co. is set to cut salaries at the Boston Globe by 23 percent “effective next week.” Guild members turned down a proposed 8.4 percent cut in pay and just a few months ago, The Times said it would close the Globe if salary costs were not cut by $20 million a year. Where will it end?
Gordon Crovitz of The Wall Street Journal thinks one of the answers will be the new Journalism Online service expected to launch in the fall. In an online interview, Crovitz talked about paid subscriptions that will make it as easy as possible for readers to get access to what they want when then want it. He thinks consumers will pay for a subscription service — “don’t hassle me with a pay wall,” give me (the reader) what I want for a reasonable fee.
Of course Crovitz is looking at this venture from the perspective of a publisher as a service to other publishers. Publishers all need the revenue and the online ad model isn’t working. It’s not enough.
People will pay for convenience. They’ll pay for good content. iTunes proved it. But the better model might be Rhapsody, the music subscription service. Traditional print avenues may be closing for writers, but the opportunities that are just beginning to unfold for writers on the Internet are endless. No matter what we have to write about, there are readers out there on The Long Tail that are interested in what we have to say.
Just as the iPod fueled iTunes and Rhapsody, the newest wave of E-readers, shown at Computex Taipei 2009, will expand the market for the written word. It’s true that people expect freebies on the Internet, but it’s also true that people will pay for convenience and for content tailored to their wants.
Picture a person sitting in a comfortable chair, away from their computer, with an inexpensive, lightweight E-reader that’s comfortable in their hands and as easy to read as their favorite book. They’ll need good stuff to read. The print world may be dying, but the opportunities for astute writers are just getting warmed up.