NY Times nickels & dimes its subscribers

Okay — I understand that newspapers are going begging these days, and that they need to wring every cent they can out of subscribers who have been getting used to getting free news. But at what point will subscribers decide that it's no longer worth the trouble?

Here's the deal: My mother, who is currently in her latter years (if I got any more explicit about her age, she's never let me hear the end of it) has been doing the New York Times crosswords for probably more years than I've been alive (and I've been alive quite a few). A few months ago, she reduced her home subscription from daily to the Sunday edition only, simply because she didn't really have the time or inclination to read the full paper every day anymore.

But one thing she didn't give up on was the daily crossword puzzle. Because she has a subscription, she has had access to the digital version of the NY Times, and I found where she could download the puzzle. It's one of the parts of her day she really enjoys, and she believes (and I don't doubt it) doing the crossword helps keep her mind sharp and aware, even as she ages.

So today, to her dismay, she got an email from the NY Times telling her that she could no longer access her daily crossword puzzle — unless she was willing to pay extra. The latter read:

Starting July 9, Home Delivery Subscribers will no longer have free access to NYTimes.com Premium Crosswords. You can, however, continue to access Premium Crosswords by subscribing at a special low rate being offered only to Times subscribers.

That's another $3.47/month (at 50% off their "regular rate"). And I love the way the daily puzzles are suddenly "Premiums."

Of course, it goes on to say, she'll still have access to the rest of the NY Times digital edition, including smartphone and tablet apps (not having either a tablet or a smartphone, it doesn't do her a whole lot of good). My question is: And how long will that last? Will the Times try again to charge extra for its opinion pieces? Perhaps we'll have to pay more for recipes? Or movie reviews? (No, I take that back — too much advertising dollars involved there.)

Whatever the plans of the good folk at the NY Times, they've decided to limit access to their daily crosswords to those willing to pay extra. Yes, not a lot, but still — it's not going to make my mother very happy.

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