Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Mags Limiting Online Access


Recommended Posts

So, I hear that several major publishers are phasing in a new approach to accessing their online content by requiring access codes (available to existing subscribers as well as newstand purchasers) to be entered.

Has anyone else heard this? Outside the food realm, I noticed today that Parenting magazine is doing the same.

Frankly, I'm somewhat disturbed by this turn of events. They get you hooked on their content and then suddenly pull the rug out from under you. What a crock!

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

Link to post
Share on other sites

The free-online-content bubble has to burst at some point. I personally don't buy print versions of magazines and newspapers that are available for free online -- I have let several subscriptions lapse and not bothered to start others. The New York Times alone must lose a few hundred dollars a year on me.

At the same time, a publication that makes none of its content available online is going to suffer due to reduced relevance. Imagine how much more play Alan Richman's work would get on Internet food discussion sites if GQ made his articles available online -- right now it gets almost zero. His relevance suffers from GQ's strategy.

The solution, it seems to me, is to offer a percentage of your content -- especially the content that makes you particularly relevant to online communities and to people who wouldn't buy your magazine anyway -- and to make that content expire after a reasonable time online. Done correctly, this strategy should keep things balanced.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a widespread phenomenon, not just restricted to magazine sites. The days of free access to almost anything on the net surely had to be limited, for the reasons Tommy "analyzes". I notice a number of sites, such as the New York Times, require a log in but don't charge a fee. Zagat, of course, recently started charging - which is why I now recommend using City Search for online restaurant information, in the spirit of the fuck Tim Zagat consensus we have around here. :laugh:

Link to post
Share on other sites

I said it was a crock in the context of first offering the content at no charge, then building a dedicated audience and then suddenly charging for that content. Saying that doesn't necessarily call into question the sense of this strategy as a business plan. If it's just a matter of signing up for the site at no charge so that they can monitor a reader's interests to better sell advertising or whatever, fine; but to suddenly charge for it after all these years of offering it without a fee seems backwards. They should've just charged from the beginning.

And yes, Fat Guy, offering up a percentage of the content for free (á la Salon.com) is a way around this and one that seems to sit better with me. I can determine if the article is of any interest and then decide whether to sign up.

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

Link to post
Share on other sites

Several newspaper sites (Boston Globe among them) offer free access to article content for a few days. After that point, articles are $2, or 10 for $15 prepaid, etc. Abstracts continue to be free.

I have no doubt the food and wine magazines will move in the direction of abstracts only for non-subscribers. Only dead tree version subscribers or paying customers get the full text and recipe searching

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

Link to post
Share on other sites
I said it was a crock in the context of first offering the content at no charge, then building a dedicated audience and then suddenly charging for that content. Saying that doesn't necessarily call into question the sense of this strategy as a business plan. If it's just a matter of signing up for the site at no charge so that they can monitor a reader's interests to better sell advertising or whatever, fine; but to suddenly charge for it after all these years of offering it without a fee seems backwards. They should've just charged from the beginning.

but didn't you see it coming? is it such a shock that you were so taken by surprise that you're upset?

a site can't just start charging from the get-go. no one would sign up. that's just the way these things progress. fat guy told me in an expert pm that egullet was going to start charging by the post. i'm cutting way back.

Edited by tommy (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hop--I think you're going to see lots of different media models but ultimately it comes down to one thing: shouldn't good content be worth paying something for, especially if it is valuable or interesting or unique?

The model Shaw lays out has been adopted by most of the newspapers we discuss here but also magazines to varying degrees--for our purposes look to the different approaches of the Atlantic Monthly, Cook's Illustrated, Saveur, Ed Behr's newsletter (though according to the James Beard award committee his newsletter seems to have graduated into "magazine" status). Are you irked by any of these approaches?

Like Tommy I don't begrudge an organization the chance to react to a changing marketplace of ideas and technology.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

The theory for a long time was that on-line advertising would fund the free content. What has happened is that online advertisers have not been as willing as was hoped to provide the necessary funds. Thus sites are scrambling for other ways to cut their losses.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good point, Darren. I think many analysts overestimated the potential revenue from online advertising, on account of their failure to realize that the culture of the Internet is heavily skewed towards people who expect all content for free and simply ignore banner ads or don't visit sites with more intrusive ad strategies.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Good point, Darren. I think many analysts overestimated the potential revenue from online advertising, on account of their failure to realize that the culture of the Internet is heavily skewed towards people who expect all content for free and simply ignore banner ads or don't visit sites with more intrusive ad strategies.

additionally, many most likely did not realize how much time and money would have to be put into their website. it became obvious very quickly that if you wanted to stay competitive, you had to have a kick-ass website. the old model of simply providing content became outdated very quickly. websites are a large part of the "package" for many businesses, especially print.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Saveur, for example, created a senior editor position for online content a couple of years ago. That position no longer exists, and the Web site is sorely out-of-date and lame.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

whether I saw it coming or not is irrelevent. Is it a shock? am I bugged by it? yeah. for reasons I've already articulated, the sudden change, the fact that yesterday it was free. Why pay for something that you were getting for free?

And then there's the question of public access. A magazine gets published and your local library will likely get a copy of it (maybe not Libido: the journal of sex and sensibility, but your mainstream pubs for sure). What's gonna happen if some content is only availble on a magazine's web site? how would the local library offer that content to their patrons?

Is good content worth paying for? yes. Then why was it free to begin with? That question, Steve, actually makes me take a step back to why not charge from the beginning? And to say that no one would've signed up at first begs your queston, isn't it worth paying for? If no one would've paid for it then, why are they gonna pay for it now?

vengroff, your post about the initial theory of ads paying for content explains a lot. with Internet advertising not living up to its initial billing, I can see how a change was necessary. I still don't necessarily agree with the new approach.

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

Link to post
Share on other sites

I assume any large business like the Wall Street Journal is going to conduct marketing research before switching to a pay-for-content scheme. They assemble focus groups or whatever and they assume they'll lose X percent of their readers but make Y amount of money. Then they decide whether it's worth it.

The rationale for offering the content free at first seems obvious, especially if you view online readers as mostly a new market segment: you have to show people what they're going to get before you can make the sale. It's like giving people free HBO for a couple of months with a basic cable subscription, and then saying they need to pay extra to keep HBO. Standard operating procedure in many industries.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the first step into maturity for a website. It's also a bit like when a trainee trapeze artist first flies without the net --- it's when people will find out for the first time whether they are actually good enough, and if they've made a mistake it may be a painful fall.

There are many big egoes out there who believe they own their world on the web, but will now find that they're just not as well thought of as they had supposed. My prediction for the biggest faller in the world is FT.com, which has had vast sums invested in something which I believe virtually no-one will pay for (LOL, virtually is the right word).

At least the fallers will clear a bit of cyberspace for the others :laugh:

Link to post
Share on other sites
My prediction for the biggest faller in the world is FT.com, which has had vast sums invested in something which I believe virtually no-one will pay for (LOL, virtually is the right word).

I used to work for Pearson (owner of the FT) doing web work. Look at their stock price since Dame Marjorie started buying interent companies in the summer of 2000.

PSO stock price

I see their relaunching FT.com 4/26. Yeah, that will work.

Link to post
Share on other sites
In my opinion what the web needs is a reliable and easy micropayments. Would you pay 25 cents for an article if it was done with one click and you didn't need to register? I would. Microsoft tried to bully its way into this with its Passport.

More on Micropayments

Paypal is another alternative for micropayments.

The NY Times, Boston Globe and 450 other newspapers outsource their archive access rights to a firm called Newsbank (partly owned by the Times). Newsbank also provides access to scientific journals. Each newspaper has the opportunity to set its free access policy, and determine the price for access. Not surprisingly, scientific journals are more expensive on a per-look basis.

The NYT policy is 2.95 per article, with a discounted rate of $16 for a 90 day 10 pack, or $26 for a 180 day 25 pack. They charge your credit card, you use up your credit line. Like a metrocard.

News Bank

BTW, Reuters has a free site which provides raw, minimally edited TV uplink feeds from Iraq. At any given time they have 6 - 8 loops of 10 minutes each drawn from al-Jazeera, Abu Dhabi TV, etc. Free, but they do ask a lot of questions...

Reuters

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hop--though I feel for you, I still find your perspective unrealistic and unpersuasive. My response would be to appreciate having gotten x issues or x months of service for free and grateful for the chance to really find out how much I valued that content. It's the ultimate in money back guarantees--become completely familiar with our product for free--and then when you realize without a doubt that our product is special--pay for it.

And as far as local libraries, I don't think I've been in one in 5 or 6 years at least, maybe more. Do you still have to have "library" cards or have they progressed to just using your credit card to check out books? (Occasionally I have used a local B&N or other bookstore as a "library.")

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve, they have smart library cards now and record your borrowings on a computer. None of that messy stamping any more. :wink: I rarely use public libraries myself, but have a romantic idea that there might be some youngsters out there who find them a refuge, as I once did myself.

I agree with you about the internet, though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve, my local library gives out library cards. It is rather small, and the lack of space keeps them from buying a lot of new books.

Newspapers and magazines may also charge for online content because of the rights they have to pay (some) freelancers for the use of their pieces on their sites. Many media don't pay additional rights, and there was a big case about it last year that involved the NY Times if I recall (don't have time to look for a link to the story right now). I doubt that it plays a big role, but maybe.

Anne E. McBride

Link to post
Share on other sites

Swissmiss--yes, Google that Tasini v. The New York Times and you'll find it is still being discussed and played a big role as to why archives are now incomplete--contracts or releases weren't written to cover it and some publishers just decided it was too hard to go back and contact each freelancer for permission and/or an additional payment before appearing on sites like NYTimes.com or LEXIS-NEXIS. Some argued it wasn't even necessary to secure those rights. Now, most freelancers are just pressured to give up those first web rights as a condition of getting the print gig in the first place.

http://www.nwu.org/tvt/blacklst.htm

http://www.complete-review.com/quarterly/v...sue3/tasini.htm

And do you use your local library for food info or concerns?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the links Steve.

I use my local library mainly to borrow less recent cookbooks or history books. I do extensive research for all the pieces I write so it is useful because they have cookbooks from the '70s and '80s that may include interesting tidbits. As for the most recent books, they are very, very mainstream but still useful if I don't want to buy the book but just look at a specific recipe or background information. I also looked at the magazine section briefly once, but can't remember if they have any of the food mags. If they do it's most likely the ones I already subscribe too.

Anne E. McBride

Link to post
Share on other sites
The free-online-content bubble has to burst at some point. I personally don't buy print versions of magazines and newspapers that are available for free online -- I have let several subscriptions lapse and not bothered to start others. The New York Times alone must lose a few hundred dollars a year on me.

At the same time, a publication that makes none of its content available online is going to suffer due to reduced relevance. Imagine how much more play Alan Richman's work would get on Internet food discussion sites if GQ made his articles available online -- right now it gets almost zero. His relevance suffers from GQ's strategy.

The solution, it seems to me, is to offer a percentage of your content -- especially the content that makes you particularly relevant to online communities and to people who wouldn't buy your magazine anyway -- and to make that content expire after a reasonable time online. Done correctly, this strategy should keep things balanced.

Actually I buy Fine Cooking regularly and I noticed that they put pieces of back issues online. I agree that it's smart business. If they gave away their entire publication, only those without computers would buy the mags and that number isn't as small as we think.

Link to post
Share on other sites
And as far as local libraries, I don't think I've been in one in 5 or 6 years at least, maybe more.  Do you still have to have "library" cards or have they progressed to just using your credit card to check out books?  (Occasionally I have used a local B&N or other bookstore as a "library.")

I used to buy a lot of books. Now I check them out of the library to decide if they're really worth the money and space in my house. My local library has its entire catalog online. If I hear about a book while listening to the radio or if I read about it in the paper, I can look it up and put a hold on it immediately. They have lots of branches and they'll even send a book to the one I usually go to. They even phone me when it's available. I can't believe how much money I used to waste at bookstores.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...