Should Stereophile charge for online access to all of its magazine content? Why or why not? How would you handle supporting a more complete website?

Reader "Bob" says that he'd be very happy to pay for access to a complete Web-based version of <I>Stereophile</I>, and suspects other readers would too. Do you agree that this is a good idea?

Should <I>Stereophile</I> charge for online access to all of its magazine content? Why or why not? How would you handle supporting a more complete website?
I agree with Bob; here's why:
20% (53 votes)
I have a better idea:
42% (110 votes)
The paper magazine is all I need.
32% (84 votes)
Don't care.
5% (12 votes)
Total votes: 259

Yongfei's picture

I am willing to pay a yearly access fee ($20) to read all of the magazines. Then I can have access to Stereophile articles anywhere, any time.

Walter Purdy's picture

This needs an explanation?!!

Dwight Mann's picture

The paper magazine is enough for me, and I don't even subscribe to it anymore. It's a bad idea! No one spends THAT much time in front of their computer! The good old days of reading a magazine while doing other things are slowly being taken away from us! I can't read my computer while taking a sh@t. This must be the end. Next thing you know, Stereophile will go "public" with an IPO for their website or somthin'. LOL!

stephen simons's picture

Sence I already subscrib, shouldn't that be enough? I do like the magazine and the current web sight.

ian's picture

look you are going to make tons of loot on the banner clicks alone if you stay free. plus you will be seen as a valuable resource instead of yet another slimy corporate entity that just uses the web for cash rather than what it was intended for.

Dan Muller's picture

Web site should be free with subscription, can have seperate web-only access with reduced subscription price (note: advertisements pay for most of this anyway).

Paul A.  Basinski's picture

You have about a half-dozen serious competitors who don't charge for on-line content: SoundStage, Audiophilia, Stereo Times, Audio Musings, etc. Is your content so much more valuable than theirs, that I should pay for it? And besides, what do you think consumers will do when faced with free versus pay-per-view reviews? You still reserve close to 90% of your content for the magazine, anyway. Keep it there, and give us this little bonus and make the money off the ads on-line.

Graham Boyd's picture

For those of us in other countries, the post is sometimes unreliable. Despite a phone call and assurances, I have yet to succeed in procuring a copy of the June '00 issue, for instance. I have an online subscription to the Wall Street Journal and find it very satisfactory.

Donald Tu's picture

That's where things are heading in this cyber age.

Marc Sindell's picture

The Internet business model is heading thusly: Consumers will be willing to pay for quality Internet access, but not for content. I would love to see all of Stereophile's contents available on the Net, free of charge. Put all the ads you want on any page, as long as they don't blink or have monkeys to punch. I WILL click on the ads that interest me. Heck, I don't even have room for magazines in my home anymore.

Michele Casalgrandi's picture

Give it out for free guys. Use the ads for the cash. If you cannot do that make it cheap very cheap.

Lloyd's picture

Although I'll continue to cherish and pay for the tree-killing version, I think there is a market for the online kind.

don johnson's picture

Not only shouldn't Stereophile charge for web-based access, they should make all their articles available on the web for free.

Chris S.'s picture

I heartily agree with Bob. I don't always have my copy with me when I start to get that Stereophile bug. But there seems to be an Internet connection in every room of every building in the free world these days. Convenience is priceless.

Brankin's picture

The magazine is portable and I use it differently than on-line research and reading. I would not pay to read your product on the web.

Mike Kozlowski's picture

Nobody pays for websites. Well, okay, some people might, but not many. Slate ( tried to charge for a website a few years ago, and the venture failed miserably. Slate is now a free site, just like everybody else. How do you make money off a free site? Beats me, but if you find out, let the dot-coms in on the secret.

david ruppe's picture

24 kmonth old copy should be free. pay for new stuff's picture

I suppose one cannot blame Emap-Petersen for wishing to create another revenue stream. The sales growth for 1999 was 31.6% compared to the year prior and the employee growth was 43.0% for the same period (figures taken from To help support the more rapid increase in employees, it would seem to be necessary to either eliminate personnel due to overlapping work duties, or to find unique work for them to perform. With over 160 publications produced world wide, a duplication of duties would seem to be unavoidable and perhaps unnecessary. Charging web-users a fee to download or view a particular magazine, in this case, Stereophile would seem reasonable, on the surface. It certainly makes good business sense, on the surface. A problem with this postulated line of thinking is similar to that of building a toll road. Many people choose to avoid toll roads and instead take to back streets and other alternate byways to keep from paying extra money. The builders of the toll road have had to invest substantial time and money (are the two inseparable?) and are unwilling to lower the toll in order to gain an increase in traffic. Therefore, potential users of the toll road stay on the alternate routes to get to their destinations. The website faces a similar quandary. Should the Stereophile website charge a toll to view certain contents within the website? It would be inadvisable to charge someone twice for the same information. Therefore, information unique to the website would have to be added on a frequent basis in order to retain and add more traffic. Also, the cost would have to be in-line with, or lower than the cost of the print publication with which it is associated. Is the cost-benefit ratio attractive enough to continue the website or will it have to be significantly altered in order to maintain a revenue stream greater than is currently being generated? Not considered yet is the competition. In the paper-based realm, Stereophile has only a few publications with which it directly competes. In the virtual world of the World Wide Web, competes with an incredibly diverse array of competitors, from one-person webpages to on-line magazines devoted solely to audiophile equipment and interests. The road network of cyberspace is much more complex than that of a physical road system. The greatest difference between the real and virtual roads is that of time-savings. In the "real world" people weigh the cost of a toll versus the traveling time saved. In the realm of the World Wide Web, there is no time lost by traveling an alternate route. Reader "Bob" may find the toll road attractive, but Emap-Petersen may find that the World Wide Web user is a much more frugal customer as compared to the print publication consumer. The company should be mindful of which road it wishes to continue building.

Bernie Sawickis's picture

I would rather read the paper magazine, it goes anywhere. I do not like being stuck in front of a computer.

Brien Simmons's picture

In theory I agree with Bob, but I need more details. Here's what I would be willing to pay for: the ability to download a copy of any review Stereophile has done. If this kind of thing would be possible in an online version of the magazine, tben I'm all for it!

John Williams's picture

I believe we have the best of both Worlds

hugh nguyen's picture

Full access for paid subscriber and the rest get the lite weight version. I love to read the USA Today online but for a complete story or additional articles I go for the paper version. Make the web version lite and interesting so more people can be exposed to the hifi.

D.  Cline's picture

Make it free to current subscribers. I am not sure what technology would allow you to police this, but hopefully nothing too complicated. If you are thinking of watermarking your pages, just remember that they will not be high fidelity! (This is my lame attempt at a joke!)

stephen clarke's picture

To many other free audio related web sites i can use.i would not use stereophile if i had to pay for would also have lost a subscription to your guide to home theater.I am in the United Kingdom.neither magazine easily available from uk newsagents.

Tom Dedrick's picture

I believe Web publishing is where we are all heading. It will be easier to locate information I am interested in and pass by other items. However, a strong search engine is imperative, along with a brief overview of each month's contents. Further, I believe your archives section should be free to current subscribers and not everyone.

Rob P.'s picture

Not a better idea, but a variation. I would be happy to pay for an online subscription that included access to back issues. For me, it's too much to pay the full price for a back issue just to see one old review (the usual reason for wanting to read a back issue). Perhaps you could offer two subscriptions, one for current issue only and one with a (slightly) higher rate including access to back issues.

Bert Bertolucci's picture

Charging for content basically goes against the "spirit" of the interent. I think releasing a substantial amount of content 60 days after press would be better. And, to always have the previous Reccommended Components list available. The list has always been a big draw for the magazine. NOW, if the content doesn't pickup on the magazine side soon, you may not have enough subscribers and need to devote all you efforts into a more omnibus audio site.

Dennis's picture

Maybe I don't want to see the entire issue. Being able to download what I wanted would be especially helpful in the case of equipment reviews.

S.R.Lane's picture

I think it would be a good idea as long as the cost was kept reasonable and the content was the same or better. And if we had access to all the archived issues. It would be worth an initial membership fee and then a reasonable subscription rate there after. Think it can be done?

Patrick Tracy, aka Svenbjorn's picture

I subscribe to your magazine, and find that the majority of my time perusing your writing is done in standard, analog fashion. I do, however, enjoy getting on the Net and looking at the additional material that you provide on this site. If asked to pay for the service, I don't think that I would do it, simply because I enjoy being able to read the 'zine in front of the stereo, instead of the computer. If you decide to make the full magazine package available on your web-page, it would be nice if there were a "free" section that resembled what you have now, changing each week, and a "paid" segment that covered the full text of the magazine. That way, those of us who use the site only to bolster our Stereophile knowledge won't be forced to pay twice. Another option would be to include an access number to the site with each paid subscription to the paper magazine. That would control access without making the "faithful" pay twice. This idea could be used in tandem with the one I mentioned first.