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The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) has a FAQ about its new digital subscription plans but we thought it was worth the time to put together our own. The version updates the edition from March 17 when the long-awaited details were announced and the meter went live in Canada. Comments, requests and suggestions are welcome.
» When does the Times starts charging for online access? It’s live now. The plan went into effect in Canada March 17; it launched in the U.S. and elsewhere March 28.
» How much does it cost? That depends. It doesn’t have to cost anything if you can skate by with 20 links a month or a blend of that and social/search links that can be viewed after the 20-article limit is reached. If that’s not enough, uou 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.
» What? No promo? Of course there is. What’s a subscription without a promo? It’s 99 cents for the first four weeks in beta-test Canada; then $3.75 site + Smartphone per week. Outside Canada, it’s 99 cents for the first four weeks no matter the plan; then full price. The subscription is set for auto-renewal, which means you have to cancel it to stop charges.
» 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 being used to promote subscriptions.
» What about the Kindle? Yes and no. E-reader subscriptions aren’t included in any of the tiers. But Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and the Times have agreed to bundle access to NYTimes.com with the NYT Kindle Edition once the two figure out how to implement subscription verification; currently, all of the NYT’s plans use its own records but Amazon controls its own customer relationships. The Times tells paidContent that it is working “to enhance” its other e-reader subscription options. If you want to subscribe to the Times on Kindle, Nook or other e-readers, you’ll have to pay separately. 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. The basic NYT Latest Headlines, however, is available on Kindle for $2 a month. As much as I would like to see it, 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?Apps on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.
» What tablets are covered? The iPad app 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.
» What does access to NYTimes.com include? No matter what subscription package you have, access to NYTimes.com includes browser access across devices and platforms. You don’t need a tablet subscription to read NYTimes.com on the iPad through Safari or another browser; you only need if you prefer the convenience of an app. Ditto for access through the browsers on Kindle or Nook if you subscribe to one of the non-e-reader bundles or for access across handsets.
» Do I have unlimited free access through search? No. Links coming from major search engines — Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Bing, AOL (NYSE: AOL), Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and Ask — are limited to five a day. But, like social links, they can be accessed after the 20-article limit.
» 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 freebi, although search links are limited to five a day. 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? Not now. 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?