Comments on economics, mystery fiction, drama, and art.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

There's bundling, and then there's "bundling"

Matt Yglesias writes, in reference to the potential growing use of paywalls for web-based content:  "Or to take another example, your traditional big city newspaper has many different sections. You can't drop the sports section if you don't care about sports and pay less money," after arguing that bundling is inherent in the nature of the economics of (for example( cable TV).  This may (or may not) be true.  What is true is that unbundling is already being practiced by those content aggregators called newspapers.

Does your local paper run (in its print edition) TV listings?  I'll bet it did a decade (or less) ago; the Chicago Tribune was within the past 4 or 5 years.  Live in a big city?  Does your newspaper have a book review section (weekly)?  Until recently, the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post both did.  Now, the Trib sells its book review section (called Printers' Row) for $99 per year.  The Post's book reviews remain, but as far as I can tell, there's no longer a separate book review section.

So in some cases the business model is bundling, and in others, it's unbundling.


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