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Dear Browser subscriber,
We need your advice. And we have a new project.
* A lot of very good writing is now behind metered paywalls.
* We are launching a platform (http://1pass.me) which allows readers to buy individual pieces of paywalled content.
* But in the meantime, should The Browser recommend articles behind metered paywalls?
In more detail
Five years ago almost all online journalism was free to read. Publishers based their business models on traffic and advertising.
But in the course of the past five years, and especially in the past two years, almost all mainstream publishers have put metered paywalls in place. A visitor can read a fixed number of free articles per week or per month before hitting the paywall.
This raises something of a policy dilemma for The Browser.
Will we serve you better by
i) Recommending good writing across the internet, even behind metered paywalls?
ii) Recommending good writing only when it is absolutely freely available?
I know that Browser readers hate hitting paywalls. When I recommend an article behind a metered paywall, which I try to do rarely, I can count on getting a justifiably irritated email or two from readers who have been unable to get at it.
On the other hand, largely excluding publications with metered paywalls means ignoring more and more of the most consistently excellent mainstream writing. The New Yorker added a metered paywall last week, provoking this reflection. The FT, the New York Times, the Economist all have metered paywalls.
In the short term I would welcome your advice on this point, and I will tailor our editorial policy accordingly.
Please write! (email@example.com)
In the slightly longer term, we think that publishers will have to allow readers to buy single articles of paid content. The longer they fail to do so, the more sales they are forfeiting. We have built a platform for single-article sales, open to any publisher, which we are calling 1Pass. It works well. It’s the online equivalent of a stored-value card: if you use an Oyster Pass on the London underground, or a Metro Card on the New York subway, you get the idea.
We are promoting 1Pass now to publishers. But it will help us enormously to get 1Pass to scale if we can show that readers want to use it.
Please have a look at our sign-up page (http://1pass.me) , and, if you like what you read there, please do sign up. Again, comments and suggestions for improving this project are warmly invited.
With best wishes