Monday, July 21, 2008

Boy, Was I Wrong About The New York Times...

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about how I was going to give The New York Times a test drive on my Kindle. As a charter member of the Tightwad's Club I was also griping about the rather pricey $13.99 monthly subscription rate. Regardless, I figured I might as well use the free two-week trial that's offered to all Kindle owners.

Two weeks and two business trips later, I'm here to tell you that this subscription is worth every penny of the $13.99/month. How many times have you struggled to read a newspaper on a flight? Whether it's folding it up, knocking things over or just getting all that nasty ink on your hands, I've never found it convenient to read a paper on an airplane. The Kindle newspaper experience is, of course, a breeze by comparison.

I especially loved it that no matter where I was in the country I knew when I woke up the latest edition was waiting for me. Then there's the quality of the content. Sorry, Indianapolis Star editorial team, but I can't believe the quality OpEd material I've been missing out on. Thomas Friedman alone is probably worth the $13.99 monthly fee. In fact, I'm now struggling with whether I should bother maintaining a subscription to the Indianapolis Star. The only thing that's standing between me and cancellation is my wife; she enjoys reading it, particularly since she doesn't get regular access to the Times on my Kindle.

Are there drawbacks? Sure. The "Back" button doesn't always take me where I think it should. I've also had a couple more Kindle lockups while reading the Times. And although it's kind of nice to read a paper with no ads, it feels odd. A work colleague was showing me his new 3G iPhone the other day and mentioned that The New York Times is completely free on it. As I tried it out I noticed subtle ads at the bottom of each screen. I'm not sure if that's how Apple is funding free access to the Times but Amazon should explore the same option, even if it's only to lower the price further and bring in a much larger audience.

The other thing that still feels strange is how this service straddles the fence between static and dynamic content. All you're getting is an image of each day's newspaper, which is fine, but since I have a live connection why not offer periodic updates throughout the day? The Times website offers breaking news from time to time, so why not push that out to Kindle subscribers as well? For example, here's an article from the Times website which first appeared 38 minutes ago and says it was published on 7/22, which is tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Two comments:
Get the latest news blog for the kindle. It's actually more useful than the whole paper if you're looking for constant news. It refreshes often, has many of the paper's articles, and is cheap. It is the best showcase for pushing info to the kindle.
The iphone may have "free" access, but that's through a web browser / web enabled app. As far as I know, that will not work in an airplane. Also, the iphone requires an internet plan from AT&T which the kindle does not, in order to access data on the go.

Joe Wikert said...

I already get the AP US News feed for $1.99/month and it (kind of) fills that void for me. Maybe it's the tightwad in me again but I have a hard time paying that $1.99 to The New York Times on top of the $13.99 I'm already paying them. I'd rather have it to to AP in the hopes that I'll get a broader perspective.

You're right about the iPhone although I'm pretty sure you have to sign up for an Internet plan to buy one anyway, so this service should be available to anyone with an iPhone. Your point about needing a connection is valid though, I believe, unless there's some way to pull all that content down before hopping on a plane.

Fran Szarejko said...

With all of the NYT problems with veracity and their clearly decided leftist approach to politics I wouldn't read the times if it was provided for free by an angel of light each morning! However, I certainly can see and am all for the Kindle advantage of reading a newspaper on an airplane. This, despite my conservative leanings is a good thing.