99 cents?

Not too long ago I read a story on Poynter.org – an online outlet of the Poynter Institute, a journalism school and resource based in Florida – about media analyst Edward Atorino proposing that a dollar surcharge should be added to the New York Times’ Sunday subscribers. This is in relation to the New York Times’ CEO participating in an online discussion regarding the company’s third-quarter earnings.

Regarding the pricing of the digital product, the Sunday package is very strong. And I hear a lot of people get the Sunday package because they get the online for free. Have you thought about charging those folks $1 a week or something? You’d get an awful lot of additional dollars right to the bottom line. Or generally, price — charge the print subscriber a little bit to get the online.

The New York Times insisted it won’t go this rout. But it raises a question. Is information a commodity? Maybe it should be. (Of course, as a downsized reporter, I am biased).

And the dollar surcharge got me to thinking about how it goes in Europe, or at least in European countries that use the Euro as their currency.

Now, I love Europe. I joke that in my time off when I’m not getting my hustle on, I’m living like a Euro. Spending time with friends and loved ones, riding my bike, drinking coffee, watching sports, reading, thinking about work but not making it the center of my life …

But everywhere I went in Europe I noticed something. Prices of everything were in 1-euro denominations, or rounded to a denomination of five or 10. A Kinder bar was one euro. A bottle of wine was 6.50 euro. A magazine was 2.25 euro. When I came back to the United States I was overwhelmed with how many things I saw that cost 2.99 or 29.99 … Or the cost ended in a “.99” … it’s like a nation of Gretzkys … No disrespect to the Great One.

But what if we were to do like the Euros? Increase the price by a penny. Make something worth a dollar instead of 99 cents. Would those pennies add up? Probably. Because with the way our economy is flailing and flopping, it might be worth investing an extra penny or two. I’m no economist by any means but it’s worth a shot.


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