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The NY Times Gambles by Raising Prices

"Dear Home Delivery Subscriber,

"Effective Monday, June 1, there will be an increase in the price of the home delivery of The Times...We regret having to raise rates at this time of financial challenge for so many cross the nation. It is, however, one of a number of steps we must take in order to secure the core qualities that define The Times and make it so highly valued buy the most discerning readers."

Thus reads the piece of white paper bearing the logo of The New York Times that slipped out of my Sunday morning newspaper this morning, confirming speculation that has been building in the business press for weeks. As a subscriber to the national edition, I will henceforth have to decide whether reading the print edition is worth $7.50 every Sunday, or whether this product has priced itself out of my reach.

As I was mulling this over, while sipping my (home-brewed) morning coffee, I remembered that the last time I decided to re-up to The Times was to make sure I didn't miss relevant stories by only reading the paper online, mainly via email.

This doesn't really happen, however, thanks to social media and my friends' desire to share, RSS, Twitter, and Smub. Now it seems easier to find stories online than in the print edition. Today, I easily found John Markoff's remarkable piece about artificial intelligence online, but only after concluding that it hadn't made the print edition, did I spy it the Week in Review, a section I usually hold onto for later.)

All of which is to question whether this price-rise by The Times, at this moment, is a wise business decision. Maybe there are others out there like me, who don't need a new reason to say no to redundancy. After all, we've long since cut out that morning latte, the land line, and other unnecessary luxuries.

Is the paper edition really worth $769.60 a year in tight economic times?

I'm sure the paper did all the requisite market research to determine how much additional revenue (~$40 million has been mentioned) this move may generate, and factored in some fall-off in subscribers. If the public were confident that the economic downturn had ended, and that we were now on the rebound, I doubt this price rise would drive many people away.

But, my sense is most consumers think the recession is nowhere near over yet. if I'm right, this move by The Times may give cost-conscious subscribers a new reason to rethink their commitment to an outdated business model and its main product.

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