From the Economist

Pricing Update at The New Yorker

NewYorkerUpdated Oct 9, 2016: The New Yorker updated its cover price again a few weeks back - it returned to $8.99 now. I've lost hope to make sense of it.

Given that my September 2015 post "Pricing at The New Yorker" is one of my most viewed posts to date, consistently garnering new views even almost one year later, I thought I'd give the quick update that The New Yorker has revised its newsstand price back down to the $7.99 level of early 2015, as you can see in the image to the left. As you can see in the original post, the newsstand price was $6.99 in September 2014, $7.99 in January 2015 and $8.99 in July 2015. While I felt $8.99 was too high, the opportunity to read any article by Jane Mayer should make the $7.99 price tag more palatable to non-subscribers, although personally there are quite a few New Yorker issues where I don't find anything I care to read, given all the other unread books and magazines I have. (Time is short, what can I say.) In fact I suspect the New Yorker business model is based on inane articles of utmost vapidity such as "Thoughts on my engagement ring" or (only marginally better) "Love in translation" driving traffic to fund hard-hitting, deeply important pieces of investigative journalism such as "Donald Trump's ghostwriter tells all". I suppose magazines do what they have to do to survive in this day and age, 

As a matter of comparison, I'm not sure what The Atlantic's newsstand price is, but a $24.65/year subscription is supposed to save you 65% of the newsstand price of this monthly magazine with 10 issues a year, so we are looking at a newsstand price around $24.65/(0.35*10)=$7.04 per monthly issue. The weekly Economist has introductory subscription deals of $12 for 12 weeks amounting to 87% off, putting the newsstand price around $7.69 a week. (The Economist website explains the savings are based on a $7.99 newsstand price, for which a $1/week offer for 12 week would correspond to a 87.5% savings.) This suggests a price point of $8.99/issue for a weekly magazine was too high given the other quality magazines that people can spend their money on. 

Ultimately I feel that the price increases were meant to push readers toward subscribing, but one has to be careful not to convince occasional readers instead that they should read the magazine at Barnes & Noble Cafe without paying for it and then go on their way. I also felt the previous increases had been too quick. It is easier for readers to understand a price increase if the price was at a certain level for a long time. But if a magazine increases its price several times within a few months, it just makes readers think that the magazine owners or managers did not know what correct price to charge at the beginning in order to maintain quality journalism.

As an analytics professional, I'd love to know what prompted the change. How much of a decrease in newsstand sales did the magazine see to motivate a price change downward? Were there decreases in airport newsstands sales (the kind where you can't read the article if you don't want to pay) or Barnes & Noble sales (the kind where you can browse through the magazine in front of a latte)? Was there pushback and if so, by whom? What is the trade-off between trying to get subscribers for the steady inflow of money (The New Yorker's approach to subscription renewal is automatic renewal unless you opt out) and introducing newcomers to the magazine? 

It'll be interesting to see if the price of The New Yorker changes again in the next year and if so, whether it is upward or downward.


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