Today, The New York Times announced they would publish e-books as part of two new programs that will highlight original reporting from the newspaper’s staff, and mine the Times‘ legendary archives.
In partnership with Byliner, the Times will co-publish original reporting in culture, sports, business, science, and health, among other topics. The first Times/Byliner Original release will be “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek,” an expansion of an article by Times reporter John Branch that will publish in the December 17th issue of the paper. Branch’s pieces will be available for purchase on Kindle, iBooks, Barnes & Noble’s NOOK, Byliner.com, and NYTStore.com for $2.99.
The second program, TimesFiles, will allow readers to purchase selections of vintage New York Times articles curated around a specific topic or subject of interest. Using the Vook e-book publishing platform, the TimesFiles collection will make 25 e-books (starting at $1.99) available on December 17th. Launch titles include “The Fall of the Berlin Wall,” “George Steinbrenner and the Yankees” and “The Life and Films of John Hughes.”
I think this is a brilliant idea considering the newspaper giant has been struggling to find a balance between dispensing news and turning a profit. Over the last few years, The New York Times has faced the realities of the shrinking market for print ads which forced fellow paper The New York Sun to close in 2008.
In response, NYT has been pushing readers to subscribe to the paper’s online edition. Initially they allowed readers 20 free articles before blocking access to their content, but in the last year, the number of free articles accessible to online readers was cut in half. They have also made slashes to staff, recently offered pension-buyouts, and specifically asked 30 non-union newsroom managers to voluntarily take a buy-out package.
The conundrum though is, the news is more than digital content. During Hurricane Sandy, NYT announced they would offer free access to readers as New Yorkers, quarantined in their homes due to the storm, were reliant on news sources for information about transit operations, school closings, and the extent of damage.
With these new e-book programs, The Times may very well stave off its increasing financial woes. Depending on the contractual agreements between the writers and the paper, it also offers their reporters a new way to generate income on their thoroughly researched original reporting.