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March 2, 2009
Newspapers are Laughably Expensive
Amid the mourning for the death of yet another paper, an interesting bit of back-of-envelope math.
First, though, the Post has it completely right - newspapers screwed the pooch and are killing themselves as a result. As good a paper as the Rocky Mountain News was - and by all accounts it was first class - it could not change the basic fact that people are no longer relying on newspapers for... well, "news." As the social concept of what it means to be up to date and informed changes, the medium has to change. Evolve or die.
Which brings me back to Nicholas Carlson's posting from a month ago in Silicon Alley Insider, in which he works out a rough estimate that it would cost about half as much to ship every New York Times subscriber a Kindle as it does to ship them the physical paper.
Which is not to say he's recommending that the Times do such a thing; he's just pointing out the economics of newspaper delivery are heavily weighted against the current model and continuing to push it is pretty likely to fail. See, for example, his column from today on "The Next 9 Newspapers To Die."
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