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It’s been two weeks since we partnered with Esquire magazine to ask readers of its web site to pay $1.99 for Luke Dittrich’s piece on Dr. Eben Alexander, author of The New York Time’s bestseller “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife” and we are thrilled by both the early results of our partnership as well as by the conversation that it has sparked. As of this afternoon, searching on ‘Esquire paywall’ in Google returns more than 79,000 results.
The Tinypass/Esquire implementation is acting as a catalyst for a conversation that we feel has been a long time coming. Media pundits from the excellent Ken Doctor at Harvard’s Neiman Lab – see http://bit.ly/Iy7Rdx – to Reuter’s provocative Felix Salmon – see http://bit.ly/146hIGk – have respectfully theorized on the “newsonomics of small things” and “iTunes pricing as a model for journalism”. By acting rather than navel-gazing, the forward thinking team at Esquire is putting theory into practice.
Reactions to Esquire’s charging for content direct from its own site has elicited a wide-range of reactions, bringing out everyone’s inner designer, copy editor, business strategist, and technologist, just to name a few disciplines. We think it is great. As the indomitable Teddy Roosevelt famously said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
To use a tired cliché, we really are in the first inning, perhaps batting practice, of paid media models on the Open Web. The range of approaches runs from charging subscriptions for access to sites, i.e. taking what has worked offline and applying it online, today’s batting practice, to the sorts of ideas proposed by Federated Media founder and CEO John Battelle, who lays out a world where paid content meets the social web and price elasticity – see http://bit.ly/12ileYL.
End-users paying for content is nothing new and we here at Tinypass believe that this will continue to be the case as we transition from analog to digital consumption. While we may not know precisely how everything is going to shake out, we are certain about our mission, helping enable sustainable business models for the Fourth Estate.