Is it finally time to end my print newspaper subscription?This is a problem that has been bothering me more and more over the past few months. The answer seems simple, but I have been a print subscriber for, well, decades now. So I have an emotional attachment to my daily newspaper delivery. For many years it was the Japan Times. Then, oh, maybe 10 or 12 years ago I realized the Daily Yomiuri was a better bargain. The monthly cost was not only substantially less, I think it is a better paper, with weekly sections from The Independent, Washington Post and L.A. Times. Anyway, for over a quarter century now I’ve been getting a daily English newspaper delivered to my door in the pre-dawn hours. But… is it time for this too to pass? Is the age of printed newspapers over for me? From any practical point of view there is no need to subscribe to the paper. The exact same articles – in fact even more information and photos in color – can be seen online – on my computer or when comfortably lounging around on my iPad by just visiting http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/. Everything’s there – the same articles, the columns, the weather reports, the exchange rates. And it’s all free. Just a month or so ago, the printed subscription rate went up to about 2,900 yen/month. In dollars, that’s about $36/month or $432/year. We’re talking almost the cost of the iPad itself, just to see the same news I can see on the iPad for free.
Plus there are other nice news aggregators for the iPad (my favorite is Zite) which include articles from all the Japanese English newspapers. Also for free. So for practical reasons, I think it’s time to pick up the phone and bid farewell to the daily print delivery. Yet… I keep hesitating. It feels sad in a way to see it go. And one has to consider – who is paying for all the news to be collected and published? The daily print subscriptions are falling all over the world. In fact, my newspaper delivery guy has been including the Japanese Yomiuri Shinbun for free every day – just so they can keep their subscriber numbers up. If everybody unsubscribes, are the online ads going to pay for production of news? The New York Times now allows just 20 article reads a month before you have to subscribe. (Though that is trivially easy to get around because they allow people to come in from outside links, so all you have to do is copy an article link, go to another site, paste the URL into your browser and you are in – referred from elsewhere.) I wonder if their latest attempt to charge for digital subscriptions will succeed. I would pay for the New York Times if it were a reasonable cost. But they charge on par with print subscriptions, and I think there should be substantial savings with electronic delivery. As I do with eBooks. I’ll probably call and cancel the Daily Yomiuri before the end of the month. I’ll still read the paper every day though. Yet I feel a sense of sadness about this inevitability. The question then is… what will I use to line the bottom of Hao and Mon’s bird cage? doug