Guest Column: It's Not Rocket Science
Last week, my wife and I canceled home delivery of The New York Times, which was one of the first things we ordered when we moved into our North Jersey home 24 years ago. It’s not the end of the world. We’re not sentimental about it. It was more like an item on a list we had wanted to check off for some time.
The cancellation wasn’t the result of a customer satisfaction problem. And it’s not that we won’t pay for content—still a point of some controversy in the ongoing debate about the future of hard-copy publishing. We’ve been paying $550 a year for The Times for a long time, and somewhere just south of $10,000 over the past 24 years.
The issue is really pretty simple. We want it the way we want it, especially because we pay for it. Twenty-four years is a long time to carry five or six shopping bags of newsprint waste, along with empty dog-food cans and wine bottles, down the driveway every two weeks. The persistent, messy newsprint clutter around the house is overbearing, accusatory and a psychological burden—read me, read me, read me. It piles up. Enough already.
So my wife bought an Amazon Kindle 2 and subscribed to The Times. And I decided to do what I do with other news feeds—mobile via my BlackBerry, just like the paid information service we provide to our financial licensees at The Deal.
My wife loves her Kindle. I think it’s slow, clunky and gray, like early Palm Pilots. I love/hate my BlackBerry, but it’s welded to my left hand. I’m never without an alert about some company or market, a celebrity update, or a breaking news event.
I set up a NYT morning headlines e-mail. I skim the abstracts, click through the links to a couple articles and am finished before the Secaucus transfer stop. No more psychological burden. I took only two bags of recycling to the curb last night.
In the evening, there’s a laptop (and a dog) on my lap, so I can look at all the pretty pictures and watch the videos, see if I missed something during the day, and—bonus—there are tomorrow’s headlines tonight.
The Times is $168 a year on a $360 Kindle 2. For now, the NYT e-mail service is free with registration; though I would pay a reasonable price for it and the Web site behind it, or that and a Kindle bundle—or maybe an e-passport with various access points.