Two years ago, the New York Times put its archives and some of its columnists behind a fee wall, and started charging users $49.95 a year to access the information. A few weeks ago, I linked to a rumor that the Times would be abandoning its TimesSelect service. Turns out the rumors were true.
The Times was generating $10 million a year in revenue from a quarter million subscribers, but they decided that aggregating eyeballs was more important, and ultimately, more profitable. From today's Times story:
What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started comingto the site from search engines and links on other sites instead ofcoming directly to NYTimes.com.These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the paywall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyaldirect users, were seen as opportunities for more page views andincreased advertising revenue.
Good news for users, especially bloggers and students who are looking for information but don't want to or can't afford to buy access to it. It's so frustrating to find exactly the info you need online, and then to find that you have to pay for it, and can't even link to it and share it.
And hey, I heard on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac that today is the 156th birthday of the NYT. Thanks for the reverse birthday present!