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And now the big question: Will we see the “penny press” again? Beginning in the 1830s, some newspapers were hawked for a penny. In the 1830s and 1840s, there were three penny-press papers in New York City alone. Now that newspapers can sell a paper for one penny and count it as paid circulation, are prices going to plunge? It’s more likely they will go up. In the past, papers always figured that they got their revenue from ads, not circulation. So circulation per se was often unprofitable. But now that the ads are not coming in, papers have to get revenue from circulation.

According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the New York Times, which recently raised prices even as circulation dropped, will soon reach the point at which circulation revenues will pass ad revenues.

Says Riley, “More and more papers will be raising prices. There is no doubt about it. Advertisers are struggling, and they have been subsidizing the cost of circulation. Now circulation departments have to generate more revenue.”

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curmudgeon Aug. 19, 2009 @ 4:46 p.m.

I know someone who was pitched (and accepted) the low U-T price by a door-to-door salesman two weeks ago. But that doesn't beat several solicitations I've received from the L.A. Times over the last year, always involving a gift card as a rebate.

The last one I received offers the Times Thurs.-Sun. for a year for $39.95, with a $20 Target gift card coming back to me. So the net is $19.95 for a year!

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Don Bauder Aug. 19, 2009 @ 8:09 p.m.

Response to post #1: You have to wonder why anyone pays full price for a newspaper subscription. Best, Don Bauder

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traci_madison Aug. 20, 2009 @ 10:24 a.m.

After ignoring several U-T renewal requests, I was sent the $29.95 one year Thursday-Sunday offer. Of course I signed up! What a deal! As an added (but unexpected bonus), I get a paper delivered seven days a week.

I generally enjoy the U-T, except for its conservative political slant. Besides, the Sunday coupons pay for the paper.

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Don Bauder Aug. 20, 2009 @ 10:32 a.m.

Response to post #3: Yes, many people who have not signed up for a paper get one anyway. The gratis Sunday ones are usually paid for (maybe) by a big retail advertiser. The daily deliveries you are getting would appear to be another way to jack up circulation numbers. As to the coupons: the U-T has advertised for many years that the coupons cover the cost of a subscription. Best, Don Bauder

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Josh Board Aug. 20, 2009 @ 3:19 p.m.

I used to pay full price for newspaper subscriptions, and never thought twice about it. I hate to admit, it wasn't until I was in the theatres watching the movie Boiler Room, and the main character (who sells crappy, bogus stocks) is eating cereal, and gets a call from someone trying to pitch a newspaper subscription. When he's told of how cheap some rates are, he says "So...the current subscribers are getting screwed, and would never get these deal you're offering me right now?"

So, I let my subscription run out, and waited a few weeks. Sure enough, I got one of the good deals and have stuck with that.

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Don Bauder Aug. 20, 2009 @ 3:52 p.m.

Response to post #5: Josh, you have it figured. Let your subscription run out. When you get your call, try to work the price down. They will comply. But if they haven't gone far enough, say you are still not interested and let them call again. This time it will be cheaper. Best, Don Bauder

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monaghan Aug. 21, 2009 @ 8:58 p.m.

Sonofagun, I'm gonna try this with both the NY Times and the LA Times which I buy seven days a week for one year at a time for a lot of money.

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Don Bauder Aug. 21, 2009 @ 10:33 p.m.

Response to post #7: I would definitely give it a try -- particularly the LA Times. Drop your subscription and see what happens. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Aug. 22, 2009 @ 10:14 p.m.

If you use coupons habitually, their value can more than pay for the paper, I suppose. But that means that you MUST use coupons, not just talk about it. To make a true saving, the coupons must also be used for expenditures that you would make anyway. If you're spending on things that are nonessential or purely discretionary while using coupons, that's not saving at all.

If you enjoy a meal at, say, Pat and Oscar's, once every couple weeks, using their occasional coupons can save real dollars. But if you head there only because of the coupon and spend far more than you would have by staying home and eating your own cooking, sorry, that's not a real saving. Oh, it makes the meal out less costly and may keep it affordable, but it isn't a saving.

If the only reason you buy the newspaper is for the coupons, that may also represent a false economy. Now that the supers have cut back sharply on doubling manufacturers coupons, they are worth less than before. By all means, use coupons, but keep a clear eye on real vs. illusory savings.

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Don Bauder Aug. 22, 2009 @ 10:32 p.m.

Response to post #9: Good points. There are other ways to get discounts at supermarkets and restaurants, too. There must be studies on what percentage of coupons are actually used. And as you say, many are used for unnecessary things; the coupons become another lure for impulse buying. Best, Don Bauder

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cgmSD Oct. 27, 2009 @ 11:08 a.m.

wow! it actually worked, i was just waiting for my 3rd renewal to come in the mail

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lostsock Nov. 5, 2009 @ 5:48 p.m.

I don't know if the U-T changed their policy or what, but when my subscription ran out in August of this year, they kept delivering the paper for 3 months and then sent me a bill for my "past due" account! When I asked about this, I was told that the paper was delivered "as a courtesy" (I never got any notices or phone calls during the 3 months) and that's why I now have a past due balance. Is that a scam or what?!? Needless to say, I have no intention of paying for anything that I didn't order.

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