Barnes & Noble is not in a good financial condition, and today they hit upon a new solution for that problem:
Sell something no one wants to buy which can be had for free elsewhere.
B&N has just announced that they are offering exclusive subscriptions to 221 US college newspapers. They've signed a deal with UWire, the college-focused wire service, to pick up content published by UWire partners and distribute it in the Nook Store.
A subscription will set you back any where from $1 to $3 per month. That's a low price considering the quality of some of these newspapers, but it is also a rather high price given that you can often find the content available for free on the newspapers' website.
For example, the student newspaper of my alma mater, George Mason University, is available via the Nook Store and it is also freely available online, by email, or via an RSS feed.
But while you can find the content for free online, it is becoming increasingly hard to find a hard copy. Poynter reports that a number of universities are cutting back on the print runs of their student newspapers:
At least three college newspapers announced this month that they’re going to cut their print schedules — the University of Illinois’ Daily Illini, the University of Missouri’s The Maneater and San Diego State University’s The Aztec. They join other college newspapers, including Duke University’s The Chronicle, that have been cutting back on their print editions.
This is described not just as a cost-cutting measure but also as a move to stay current with industry trends; more and more newspapers are moving to a digital focus.
On a related note, I see from the Wikipedia entry that UWire has 850 college newspapers as members. This is rather curious given that only 221 have signed up for this program. Perhaps the others didn't see the value.
For more details, and a list of available newspapers, please visit:
image by rfduck