When the Seattle Times announced it would be upping its price-per-copy at the newsstand from 50 to 75 cents last September, many questioned the wisdom of doing so in a "free or flee" news consumption environment. But as it turns out, you can still get the Times for 50 cents, provided you're an active piggy bank preservationist who's willing to brave the elements to fetch it.
When the paper made the switch to 75 cents, it did so at retail outlets such as grocery stores, and for home subscribers (who get a slightly discounted rate of $5 for daily-Sunday delivery). But at its vending boxes -- at least the ones in King and South Snohomish (defined as south of and including the City of Everett) counties -- the price remained, and remains, 50 cents."The issue of people having three quarters in their pockets versus two really becomes a major inconvenience for folks," explains Alan Fisco, the Times' Vice President of Circulation and Marketing. "Whereas in retail locations, where people might be buying a latte as well, it's a much different situation."
But the fact that the paper comes cheaper on the sidewalk hasn't changed readers' pick-up habits. "We really haven't seen much migration from retail to the vending machines, and vice versa," Fisco says.
If you live in Pierce, North Snohomish, or Kitsap counties, the vending box price is 75 cents, a markup that extends to the Bremerton ferry run. Why? Because the papers are loaded on the Bremerton side, says Fisco, despite the fact that Times' headquarters are in Seattle.
As for Times readers outside the four-county (King, Pierce, Kitsap, Snohomish) area, they'll need a full four quarters to get their paper from a machine.