The Times' Pricey Printing Problem

I can already hear Andy Rooney complaining. In the continuing saga of the death of the newspaper, a recent thought experiment takes another punch at the New York Times.

According to back-of-the-envelope calculations, The New York Times could send every subscriber an Amazon Kindle (retail $359) for half as much as they spend to print the paper each year.

The Silicon Alley Insider came up with the calculations based on the Times' 10-Q quarterly report.

While print costs are estimated at roughly $644 million, providing all 830,000 subscribers with a Kindle would cost $297 million. While this is illustrative of the inefficiencies of tactile print media, these prognosticators make several wrong assumptions.

First, they compared the costs of printing all papers, including those sent to newsstands, to the costs of sending Kindles to only local subscribers. Other hidden factors in the analysis include the ad sales and marketing benefits that favor the visibility and accessibility of print media, over personal e-readers. 

And as one observer astutely comments, "Imagine how expensive it will be when you have a new puppy and you have to cover the floor with a collection of Kindles while potty training."

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