The Economist Tests New Delivery Model

In England and New York City, The Economist is testing a program where customers can order a copy of the magazine by 9 pm on Thursday and have it delivered to their home before 6 am on Friday. The price? The same as the newsstands, which don’t receive the magazine until 9 am on Friday.

According to AdAge:

New Yorkers who have signed up for weekly texts announcing each issue’s topics will also receive a URL for a web page they can visit to order the issue. […] The Economist’s on-demand delivery service aims to make it easier for occasional readers to buy on demand. […]

Overnighted copies cost $6.99, just like newsstand copies readers have to go get themselves. The Economist says the resulting circulation revenue is just as profitable because the delivered copies don’t require giving cuts to retailers or wholesalers.

I’m a member of the “print isn’t going away soon” school, although I also believe that digital delivery is the direction. When Kindle/Sony eReader figure out how to “loan” and “sell used” copies, then that medium will take off.

I think it’s great that TheEconomist is experimenting with new distribution models. I don’t know TheEconomist sales per issue versus sales by subscription ratio, but it would be an interesting data point. Anyone? Disclaimer: I’ve been a subscriber to TheEconomist since graduate school.

This post first appeared at Net Economics, my 2009 fall quarter course at the University of Washington.

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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