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The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) has a FAQ about its new digital subscription plans announced today but we thought it was worth the time to pu…

New York Times Classic Newspapers
photo: Corbis / Bettmann

The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) has a FAQ about its new digital subscription plans announced today but we thought it was worth the time to put together our own. Comments, requests and suggestions are welcome.

»  When does the Times starts charging for online access? The plan went into effect in Canada today; it will launch in the U.S. and elsewhere March 28.

»  How much will it cost? That depends. It doesn’t have to cost anything if you can skate by with a blend of 20 direct links a month and social/search links that don’t count against the minimum. It’s 99 cents for the first four weeks in beta-test Canada; then $3.75 site + Smartphone per week.

Or you have three digital subscription options: $15 every four weeks for NYtimes.com + Smartphone; $20 for NYTimes.com + Tablet; $35 for full access. Put another way, that’s $195, $260 or $455 a year or $3.75, $5 or $8.75 a week. Doing it every four weeks rather than monthly means 13 payments, not 12. The Times says to check back on March 28 for a special intro offer.

»  What if I’m already a print subscriber? Home delivery subscribers have access to the full monty as an added value to their subscription.

»  What if I only subscribe to the Sunday edition? If you get that or theWeekender (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), which runs $5.20 a week for the half-price new subscription now being offered or $10.40 a week, you still get an all-access digital pass for free. It applies to any print subscription, including the less expensive weekday-only option, as long as it’s home delivered. The promise of unlimited digital access is already being used to promote subscriptions.

»  What about the Kindle? No. If you want to get the Times on Kindle, Nook or other e-readers, you’ll have to pay separately — and you’ll pay dearly. The e-reader subscriptions make the basic Times digital offer look inexpensive. The Times is $20 a month (or $1 per issue) on e-readers and doesn’t include access to NYTimes.com. The basic NYT Latest Headlines, however, is available on Kindle for $2 a month. Conversely, the e-reader subscription makes the tablet option for the same price look like a better value since it includes full access to NYTimes.com. The Times says it plans “to enhance our e-reader subscription options in the near future.” That could mean full site access will be added; I have a hard time believing they will come up with a full bundle that covers tablet, smartphone and e-readers plus the site but anything is possible.

»  What else isn’t included? Premium Crosswords or The New York Times Crosswords apps.

»  What mobile devices are covered? iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

»  What tablets are covered? The iPad is mentioned specifically. The NYT app for Chrome Web Store and Times Reader 2.0 also are included.

»  But I don’t have a smartphone or a tablet. Can I get a really basic subscription to NYTimes.com? No. Aside from promotional offers, $15 is as low as it goes.

»  Do I have unlimited free access through Google? No. Links coming from Google (NSDQ: GOOG) are limited to five a day.

»  What can I see without a subscription? The homepage, blog fronts and sections fronts of NYTimes.com, the Classifieds, and the Top News section on mobile apps remain free.

»  What counts towards my 20-article limit? Articles, blog posts, slideshows, video and other multimedia features are covered; each one counts as an article no matter how many slides or pages.

»  Can I still view some articles after I hit the wall? Yes. Links from Facebook, Twitter, search engines, blogs and other social media sites should be freebies. (Free links from major search engines are limited to 5 a day; the NYT initially said only Google would have a limit but have since added Bing, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), AOL (NYSE: AOL) and Ask to the daily list.) The articles get counted but should be visible after you read 20. Read 20 articles from Twitter and you can read another 20 or more that way, but if #21 is direct from NYTimes.com, you’ll hit the wall.

»  Can multiple household members use the same account? Print subs will be able to have multiple sign-ins eventually; digital-only is limited to one. (Personally, I think the all-access option should come with multiples.)

»  How can I game the system and get all the NYT I want for free? Methods are starting to circulate already but if you care about reading the NYT that much, shouldn’t you be paying?

Updated: 3/27

  1. John H. Humphrey Sunday, March 20, 2011

    I only read/print the headlines of various articles. If I want the whole article I can open it from the headline, and then I can either read or print it. Will the headlines of the various articles count against the 20 or only if I print the entire article?

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