Even before the advent of digital reading as it stands today, the end of newspapers has been imminent. With high printing and delivery costs and a desire from readers to receive their news content in a more timely manner, newspapers around the country have been shutting their doors one by one.
“In the last few years we’ve been inundated by the end: the end of the music industry, the end of the newspaper industry,” explained Mark Gross, CEO of Data Conversion Laboratory, in an interview with GoodEReader. “And newspapers have been dying in the last few years. But in the last two years people have been a lot more positive about it. Now we’re focusing on how we can actually make a business out of electronic data and the idea of monetizing it is actually taking hold.”
“The New York Times released their quarterly financials, and they actually made money. It’s sort of a man-bites-dog story these days. They started selling online subscriptions and suddenly people have been buying it.”
The Times circulation is up by about 100,000 digital subscriptions in the past year for Monday through Friday traffic, and up by about 60,000 subscriptions for the Sunday edition for that same time period. Several other major national newspapers also reported an increase in subscriptions for both the weekday and the Sunday editions.
“Christian Science Monitor came out that their revenues are rising,” continued Gross. “They see more traffic, after stopping print publication a few years ago.”
The lure of digital newspapers is fairly obvious. The printing and delivery costs are removed and the subscriber reach is farther than with print delivery or sales. Additionally, very specialized groups of content can be tailored to the readership.
Unfortunately, one of the things that falls with digital editions is advertising revenue, something that periodicals rely on since subscriptions don’t cover 100% of the cost of authoring and production. The New York Times, for example, had a 7.2% drop in print revenue for the one year period.