The rumor reported in the Post a few weeks ago got it right – The Times is no longer charging for its web content. They were making money on subscriptions, but they realized, apparently, they can make more on advertising if the doors are open. I’m sure their columnists are also happy that bloggers can point to them without a subscription wall getting in the way.
I got into a spot of bother when I asked ProQuest whether they had any response to the Times wooing my students and faculty with free select accounts shortly after my library plunked down lots of cash for the same content. (It bugged me that the Times would act like my students’ best friend when, after all, I’m their best friend and had just purchased them a really shiny, expensive bauble and was trying hard to get them to notice.) Apparently ProQuest asked the Times and the Times said “oops, never mind” – and librarians (me in particular) were blamed for pulling the plug. But this development is exactly what I’d hoped for and I’m delighted with it.
Those of us who subscribe to the Historical New York Times will have to make clear why it’s different and worth using – there’s content and search capability that won’t be at the Times’s site. But that’s okay. And when our students graduate they won’t lose both our version and a temporary freebie from the Times.
The real news: here’s yet another example of bean counters figuring out that open is better for business than closed.