Aardvark Daily
Slate backs down over charges
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"Will they?" ... "Won't they?". It seems to change so often I doubt anyone knows for sure.

After earlier plans to start charging $19.95 for access to Slate, the on-line magazine edited by Michael Kinsley (late of CNN fame) and funded by Microsoft will now remain "free" for the "indefinite future".

In a remark which will probably not endear him to his readers, Kinsley said that people are either "too damned cheap" or "too engaged" to pay extra for Internet content.

It was admitted that Slate's readership was just 35,000 - which would have meant that even if they all subscribed, the extra revenues generated would only amount to a paltry $700,000 per year. Kinsley, acknowledges that if Slate were to start charging its readers, as was originally intended, readership figures would probably be slashed significantly. The subsequent loss of advertising revenues would likely far outweigh the small gains from the subscription fees.

Slate says that it intends to place focus on building readership at this point rather than generating subscription revenues.

Publishing on the Net is not as easy, nor as lucrative as many first thought and publishers are still searching for the ideal model - mostly through trial and error. It appears that the only Net-publications which will support a paid-subscription model are porn and financial or specific business information.

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