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Plus Report - By Thomas Baekdal - September 2021

How much should a newspaper or magazine cost? It's not the price that defines it

I'm often asked what price a newspaper or a magazine should be set at, and the answer is that there is no specific answer to this. The right price has very little to do with the actual money you ask people to pay. Instead, it's about what people pay for.

In fact, when we look at the performance of most publishers, there is very little correlation between what price they have set and how well they do.

For instance, if you go to Wired, they are currently offering one full year for $5 for the first year, and $30 the next year. This price is so low that anyone can afford it. Do you have $5? Of course you do. So why doesn't Wired have millions upon millions of subscribers? Well, because it was never really about the price.

At the other end of the spectrum are some of the more expensive newspapers. For instance, here in Denmark, some of the largest newspapers charge €435 per year. That's a serious amount of money, but they too are growing.

So the right price is not defined by the price. It's instead defined by all those other factors surrounding it. And let's talk about what those are.

Please note: In this report, I'm not going to talk about business-to-business publications, because the pricing of those is directly linked to a specific business outcome and what those businesses are. There is a whole other list of complications surrounding that, which I may cover in a future article. But in this report, I'm going to focus on the consumer market.

Disposable income

When it comes to consumer-level newspapers, magazines, podcasts, newsletters, etc, there is really only one thing that defines everything, and that is 'disposable income'.

Every person has some form of income (even those on social security), and a proportion of that is disposable, from which many things have to be paid. So, let's actually look at what this is, and I'm going to use Denmark (where I live) as an example, but you can adjust this accordingly for whatever it is in your country.

I can get a list of what the average person spends their money on from the National Bureau of Statistics, and the first thing we have to do is divide that into necessary and unnecessary spending.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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