Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When free is an option, will people pick free?

A publishing association lost a large and influential member organization due to the economy. A leader from that same organization had criticized non-members for taking a "free ride", but then they did it too. If a free ride is an option, isn't there a chance that people pick free - especially in a declined economy? (I didn't find this article myself, Kevin did.)

I used to buy the New York Times every Sunday. Have to admit I love the wedding story they highlight each Sunday (here's my favorite). But then I started reading it online too, and grew to like features the online version has much more than the print version - such as the "Most Popular" list/links and the fact I can read the wedding story late Saturday night instead of waiting for the Sunday newspaper. (Sometimes they even have extras too - like video.) So now I don't buy the newspaper anymore. And I don't pay for the online version. It's a great "free service".

So I'm always intrigued with the argument that if the public demands everything free, then the correct approach is to give them everything free. That's right, give what costs a lot of money to develop free to everyone. Then be surprised when they don't need to pay for the association anymore because it's all free anyway. Is that how it works?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right after I read your post, Marlow Harris had a post in which see linked to this NYT article about a newspaper that is thriving by shunning the web. Interesting.