A return to a NY Times pay wall

After recently posting that newspapers need to find more creative ways of distributing digital content and making a profit off of it comes this article. It appears as though the New York Times is considering re-instituting some type of pay wall in order for readers to view the site’s full content. Executive Editor Bill Keller is quote in the article, which writes that:

Keller said the company was considering charging readers for each page they click on or making the newspaper available on a wider variety of portable electronic devices, as it is on Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle.

“Some people are paying for the Times online,” the executive editor wrote. “Just not enough of them. So far.”

While I believe that charging for content delivery on devices like the Kindle or the iPhone would be a good business move I disagree that any system like the Times’ previous “Times Select” service is a good idea. The fact is that people have become accustomed to viewing and consuming content on the web for free. Companies like Flickr have created pretty successful business models by charging customers for some added features, but unless the dominant paradigm of the web changes people are not going to understand having to pay for the Times’ content on their basic site. They will continue to expect that the basic service of the Times as a news provider remain free.

I see the solution as creating a Times site that is more individualized for the end-user. The Times could offer integration with the Kindle, or even package a Kindle subscription with some other specialized content on the site, but for its own sake I hope it does not put its articles up behind a pay wall again.