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Jeff Bezos: people pay for a package, not a story

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced last month that he was buying the Washington Post for $250 million. He’s been making the rounds at the paper talking to staff about his plans and vision.

But this caught my eye:

The Bezos plan for the news organization he has agreed to buy for $250 million centers on recreating the “daily ritual” of reading The Post as a bundle, not merely a series of individual stories. He was bullish about creating that experience on tablet computers, lukewarm about the prospects of doing so on the Web, and reassuring about the future of the old-fashioned newspaper itself – at least for the foreseeable future.

“People will buy a package,” Bezos said at one meeting of reporters and editors. “They will not pay for a story.”

That last line triggers two thoughts for me. Many have asked why fans buy print comic collections when all the comics are available online for free. To modify Bezo’s quote: “People will buy a package – they will not pay for a comic.”

My other thought: the success of the comics page in newspapers has been that it is a package deal. Many complain about how lame some comics are, but packages have to appeal to a wide group of readers. What is hilarious to you is lame to others and that’s as it should be because everyone’s tastes are different. A young cartoonists might complain about Blondie, Beetle Bailey and other “legacy” strips, but you have to admit they are often the most popular strips in the package and therefore drive eyeballs to the newer strips as well.

Community Comments

#1 Samantha Wikan
September/6/2013
@ 9:10 am

I think this is very astute of you to make the connection between the free comics on the Web and the paid print collections. I wish newspaper owners would also.

#2 Suzy Kay
September/6/2013
@ 11:45 am

The Houston Chronicle used to have a way for you to read all your comics on a comic page(s). I bookmarked it and read them in one batch. That option no longer exists there. :( (if it exists elsewhere, I’m not aware of it.)

I would have been willing to pay a small price to continue that. (very small)

Now, I have the comics I read bookmarked and open them in tabs. (~50 in 7 tabs). I also have some webcomics in my RSS feed reader.

I also have ~400 comics/cartoon print collections. That includes the Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year (although, I’m hearing some not so good stuff about recent collections)

Yes, I’m willing to pay for packages, but not individual cartoons. Also, since paper and delivery aren’t a large cost, then online cost should be less than the physical paper.

#3 John Weber
September/8/2013
@ 6:49 pm

That one line is fantastic, and a great point to continually bring up over and over again. Thanks for the link!

#4 Mike Peterson
September/9/2013
@ 3:41 am

Both GoComics.com and DailyInk.com offer packages for a very small annual fee, less than $20. You can even put together a package at GoComics for free if you don’t mind ads and inconvenience, but paying artists — even if they only get a pittance of it — seems like a pretty good idea, or at least it should seem that way to readers of this blog.

And I have tried for years to explain to people who hate the old legacy strips that a newspaper is like a diner and should have something for everyone. You’re not required to read it all, but it doesn’t exist if it doesn’t offer a substantial package of choices for not a whole lot of money.

Yes, comic book publishers should consider opening a diner.

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