Don’t charge for digital when printed is free…

You’ll remember from my recent posts (“It’s official – the 6 year old’s verdict is that digital magazines are better!“) that I’m now a convert to digital newspapers, when done well – like the good old London Metro (which is free for both the printed paper and the digital iPad version).  So this week, starting the London commute again and picking up the free London Evening Standard each night on the way home (at the London tube stations), I was excited to read about their new iPad version.

All looks good, so where do I get it and how?  But then reading the smaller print, what’s this, you can get a free trial?  And then what?  Oh then it’s £4.99 per month.  But the printed one, the one everyone picks up at the tube and train stations is still free – yes with ads (lots) but it’s free.  The iPad is pretty much the same version, with ads, but I have to pay for it?  That’s all wrong!  Ok, the printed one used to be paid for but it’s not now, and hasn’t been for some time.

I’m now one customer the Evening Standard won’t get with their new digital version.  With this new planned business model, I’m not even going to go for the trial.  Why should I?  It’s too easy for me to get the printed one every evening and hey I could get a few if I wanted, and all for free.

Digital is not about a new way of making money from subscribers.  It’s about a different, and yes new, channel for how we as the customer want to be able to access the same content.  That’s it.  Why should it cost me more to consume?  It cost you more to build it?  Ok, but that’s all about investment for the future – digital is the way it’s going so get on-board quick and get some earlier adopters with you to iron out problems etc, then maybe look at new pricing.  Like a monthly charge for premium content, not the normal free content.  But not a short term return, that won’t work.

Some reviews of the Evening Standard iPad app from the Apple Appstore…

… it’s not just me!

The Metro are still – by a long way – the only newspaper publisher (in the UK at least) who are doing this well.  Their printed and digital versions are free, and their digital version offers more than the printed version, and hey yes I may now be willing to pay extra for the digital one because it offers more.  I said may – still not 100% convinced.

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