Byte Goes Subscription

Byte.com just announced that they could no longer cut it on the advertising model alone, and moved to a subscription model. $12/year gets you into all of the CMP web properties. That’s all well and good, except for the fact that most of the best technical content I’ve written is now stuck behind the CMP tollgate, inaccessible to all but the most committed readers. This effectively punches a big hole in my resume, and I’m already getting mail from people wanting to know how they can read a copy of “Who Controls the Bootloader” and other pieces. There’s got to be a better way. And if I knew what it was I’d be rich.

Music: Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band :: Orange Claw Hammer

10 thoughts on “Byte Goes Subscription

  1. As always, look to the pornography community for the innovations that eventually drive the mainstream.

    The “better way” is, I think, AdultCheck and its ilk. I don’t like them because I don’t trust them, which is silly because that’s just tied up in a whole ball of moral wax that I would have liked to think myself above. However, the idea is good. There’s some central authority you subscribe to. This costs a reasonable fee. In doing so, you get access to a whole bunch of — ideally pretty much all — content along the theme that you bought the pass for. There might also be a regular pass and a more expensive “gold” pass that gets you premium content. Pretty much anybody interested in that content is going to have a pass, and so to peruse your site becomes trivial — they’ve already bought the rights incidentally elsewhere.

    As an example, suppose I want to read video game reviews. I can subscribe to IDG.net. I’m in the gaming industry, say, and so this was a no-brainer for me. Then some guy applies for a job with me. He gives me his resume with a bunch of links to articles he’s written… on gamespot.com. Now I have to subscribe to that also to see what he’s written. Now, for a big name site like gamespot, okay, but suppose, like you, he also has casual readers who want to access it who aren’t in the industry. They probably don’t want to subscribe to both, and if they’ve already got an IDG subscription, they balk. Whatever, you get the idea. (I’m feeling unusually inarticulate today.)

    However, if there was a GamePass that all the sites participated in, then anybody into gaming at all would buy it. I mean, sure I’d shell out my $30 a year or whatever if that was going to get me access to 200 different gaming sites. Then even if I do this primarily because I want to read IDG, when this guy sends me his resume with gamespot links, or even better, when he sendsmehisresume with BobsObscureGamingSite.com links, I already have the pass that I need to get at that content, because I bought it for IDG anyway. No problem.

    I think it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, enough people thought it was a great idea in the adult community that there are now a hundred different parallel systems, which really undermines the efficacy. Also, I can’t get over the idea that buying such a pass would get me on every mailing list on the planet (as if I already wasn’t). But the model is interesting and promising at least.

  2. Scot, if CMP allows you to do so, we can re-publish the articles in question on OSNews.com.

    OSNews serves about 80,000 pages per day these days, so it is a quite big news site on the web today (for comparison, Benews was on around 14,000 per day on its hey day. NewsForge.com is on similar traffic with OSNews. LinuxToday, ActiveWin, MacSlash and others are much smaller). When we published your MacOSX article last December on OSNews, we were barely serving above 10-15,000 per day. It has grown since then.. :D

    Oh, and OSNews won’t be going subscription. ;D

  3. Thanks for the offer, E. I doubt CMP will allow it (otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a subscription model) but I might take you up on it if they do. OSNews is sure an appropriate venue. I thought you were going to take a break from that site?

  4. Irfon, I really like this idea — you’re right about all the best ideas coming from the adult content world. If the whole web is going paid, and it seems like it is, this could really take off. Now I’m thinking on similar lines for Salon, Plastic, etc.

  5. This is problem with the internety bussines model. The Net was not build on that kindf of model, its was built on cooperative when .edu where the most used tlds.

    In france we had minitel. basicly the end users paid the telco which them gave a % of that to the online publisher. This should be the way, the commercial internet would live, but the internet being international this would anly be a dream. Waht killed the advertising model is the ROI via the clicked thru. In a paper magazine how can an advertiser tell if the ad is successfull ? on the internet it’s easy, and that’s what killing adverts on the net. Adverts vendors are killing there bussiness.

  6. To all interested: Byte has responded to my request with a request not to repost any of my old content. “One reason we decided on such an inexpensive access fee to the Byte.com web site was to accomodate those readers who want to review only an article or two.” I personally would not pay $12/year just to read one article, but some people might. In any case, it’s their content (they bought it from me) and their revenue model. I respect it.

  7. Heh… nice kung fu, Mark ;)

    Actually, a nice bit of serendipity: I had just read your post about the wayback machine, then the next day someone e-mailed me to say they’d relinked a missing page to archive.org’s copy. As old Jack Burton always says–“What the hell”.

    Mirabile dictu, the print-friendly version works too.

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