Have We Ever Paid for Content?

Paula Graham says the much-discussed "pay for content" online news model may be fundamentally flawed in that newspapers and magazines never really charged for their content, even in print. Subscriptions and newsstand prices have been traditionally used to pay for the medium, and the means of distribution, and not for the content of the articles.

In fact consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren’t really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn’t better content cost more?

One could argue, however, that via iTunes, Apple has successfully transitioned music from consumers paying for medium to consumers paying for content. Could the same happen for online news and online books? Graham says that iTunes is actually more of a "tollbooth."

Discovered via New Business Models for News and @freddieoconnell.