About two years ago I had an e-mail exchange with one of the journalists at the Wall Street Journal about the future of newspapers.  I told him that the costliest portion of producing a paper was the actual paper and ink and delivering it to the door or business of the subscriber, and that the internet would one day allow all that to be done electronically.

That day has arrived.  The New York Times has a new reader that is available for a free two-week trial (www.nytimes.com/trtoday).  The reader is an adobe product that organizes the electronic delivery of the paper like it would be if reading the print version, with the various sections and the articles contained in them.  I tried it out for the first time yesterday and was impressed. 

To get the paper, you just turn on your computer–it can be a PC or Mac, desktop or laptop–sign on to your internet connection, and voila, the newspaper appears when you open the reader.

The pages are crisp and readable, with accompanying photos.  The pages turn, one screen at a time, so there’s not the aggravating scrolling down like you have to do when reading something off the internet.  The price (after the free trial) is about $20/month, substantially less than a print subscription.  I like it, but I’m gonna have to see if the price is justified.  Why pay for the pleasure of reading the newspaper sort of like a newspaper if everything is available on the internet for free?

But I’ll say this–it is a step in the right direction, as opposed to the strategy the guys at the Wall Street Journal are pursuing.  My print subscription runs out in about a month, and that’s it for me.  At roughly $500/year now, it’s more money than I spend on beer.  And I get everything the Wall Street Journal says either on their website (quite a bit of it does not require a subscription) or on Bloomberg News or the Economist’s website.

I’m considering restarting my Economist subscription.  At $100/year, and with some of the best political, economic and social writing and commentary, it seems a relative bargain.  But just about anything beats $500/year.  It’s been over twenty years now, but so long Wall Street Journal.