We have been thinking for some time at The Browser about the advance of paywalls. They are good in principle: Publishers need revenues in order to publish good writing, and business models driven by advertising lead very quickly to bad writing. Payment for content is the answer. But it seems hard on most readers to require a monthly or yearly subscription in order to read a particular article.
Our solution is to launch a service enabling readers to pay to read newspaper and magazine articles that are published behind paywalls. The reader can pay to read a single article without having to buy a monthly or yearly subscription to the publication. We have called the service 1Pass.
Our aim is to make 1Pass an attractive sales channel for any reputable publisher. We have been lucky enough to start at the top, with an agreement to offer selected articles from the Financial Times. We expect to add more publications soon.
We hope Browser subscribers will sympathise with the 1Pass project. For the time being there is no need to take any action. Whenever we offer an FT article for sale through 1Pass, we will also provide it free to Browser subscribers.
We have also made agreements with The Economist and Foreign Affairs, so that we can republish selected articles from these publications for Browser subscribers to read.
The result is that we have a new section on The Browser home page in which we offer our choice of articles from the Financial Times (a new article each weekday); from The Economist (a new article each week); and from Foreign Affairs (three articles each month).
It’s important to stress that we are choosing the articles on merit. This is not a marketing deal in which the publications pay The Browser to feature particular articles; it is a syndication deal in which The Browser pays the publishers for the right to offer selected articles to our subscribers.
I would expect to include many of these articles in my daily recommendations. But there is no particular rule here. I will continue to read and recommend on merit.
In practical terms:
— If you are logged in to The Browser website, when you click on a recommended article from the Financial Times, The Economist or Foreign Affairs, you should be able to read the full text of the article, republished on The Browser. If you are taken to the publisher’s website, then you are probably not logged in.
— The same applies if you click on a link in the daily email. If you are logged in to The Browser, you should be able to read the full text of the article, republished on The Browser. If you are taken to the publisher’s website; or taken to a page on The Browser that contains only the first paragraph of the recommended article; then you are probably not logged in.
We hope that 1Pass will grow into a larger business, allowing publishers to sell individual articles directly from their own websites. That is why we have given it a separate name. If you’d like to find out more about 1Pass, please do have a look at the starter website — 1Pass.me — and tell us what you think.