Thursday, November 22, 2007

Going online...

Every once in a while we get a disgruntled subscriber call up the editorial office and because the receptionist loves me, or possible because I'm the most patient person I get these calls on my extension. So interestingly, I had this one call a few days ago, where during the course of the conversation I mentioned to the guy that we were revamping our online site, and opening up our archives (eventually) online as well as putting in a e-magazine, a full copy of the magazine online down to the adverts. Now, this is actually live right now and it is a lot better than any e-paper there is and none of the competition has a clue. But then again, our real-life competition barely has a clue anyway.
Now, back to the story, this guy then tells me 'Why should I buy the magazine then?', and honestly other than mumbling something to the effect, 'Well, it feels nicer in your hand and the e-magazine needs a good internet connection to work.' Now, this conversation actually got more interesting, 'But am I not subsidising the people who read it online?' this guy asked me, and that weirdly enough is a terribly valid question. Though I did tell him that the amount he pays for the magazine barely covers the costs of raw paper, let alone printing, distribution and the cost of maintaining an editorial and sales staff and this magazine like many others was ad-supported, but his point was well-taken.
The internet is going to change the way we will consume media, now as long as the current minister is in charge and busy raising funds for the DMK's electoral kitty by making bizarre decisions, there will not be proper broadband in this country, because I pay equivalent to $20 a month for shitty speed, albeit unlimited data from Airtel, and in the US with Fibre into the home, people can get 10mbips speeds for not much more. But, we will get those speeds one day, at ridiculously cheap rates, and just like the internet has changed the music and movie business (though the music industry refuses to change) we will have to change as well. 'Performance' media? Or will we all be slaves to Adsense revenues? You can't even say, let's wait and watch, because change will happen so fast that you'll be too far back if you wait.
That said, why are the sites of all of India's major newspapers so awful - ToI and HT both suck and are far too heavy and cluttered and their e-Papers are both rather shady, but Times' in problem requires a colour change on the e-Paper background page before anything else.


Anonymous said...

Have a look at:

Wanderer said...

I've been reading your blog for almost a year now. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Would like it better if you bashed TOI more ;)
I've blogged on TOIlet paper's cowardice in criticizing Muslims.

you may want to read the piece. And leave a comment..that'll make my day :)

You can delete this comment if you feel I'm advertising my blog.

Nitin Pai said...


You should tell him that price is best set as equal to the marginal costs. The marginal cost of the content is zero and putting it up free online maxmises net social benefit.

What about the printed (paid) edition then? Well, that "versioning" in this manner is not inconsistent with maximising welfare. Those with higher willingness to pay for a different (paper) version enjoy greater utility with the print edition, as opposed to a entirely online edition.

Hal Varian's "Information Rules" is highly recommended.