You Want the Washington Post Delivered on Paper? Jeff Bezos Wants to Cure You of That.

Don Graham sold the Washington Post to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos three-and-a-half years ago and renewing my Post subscription this week was a reminder that the Graham era is over: $702.78 for a year of seven-day home delivery of the Post.

Graham, whose grandfather Eugene Meyer bought the newspaper in 1933, had kept the Post subscription price relatively low and for many years the Post had a highest market penetration of any newspaper in the country. In the 1990s its weekday circulation peaked at 832,332.

The New York Times was the elitist newspaper—it had the high-income share of the New York market with the New York Post and New York Daily News taking the bottom two-thirds. After the Washington Star folded in 1981, the Post had an effective newspaper monopoly in the nation’s capital.

Is $702.78 a lot for a year of the Post? In pre-Bezos 2013, a year of seven-day home delivery cost $366.34. So in less than four years the Post’s sub price has almost doubled. In 2014 Bezos had raised it to $409.58, in 2015 to $470.40, in 2016 to $620.10, and now to $702.78.

I usually renewed the Post for six months but this time went for a year figuring that by late fall the sub price probably would be up closer to $800 a year.

Has the Post caught up with the elitist New York Times? I get home delivery of the Sunday Times in Washington and it costs $41.34 a month—or $498.08 a year. If I got seven-day delivery of the Times, it would cost $951 a year but that’s for home delivery in Washington. Seven-day home delivery of the Times in Manhattan would be $756 a year.

So Bezos’s Washington Post, at $702.78 a year, hasn’t quite caught up with the elitist New York Times but the year isn’t over.

What all this probably really means is that Jeff Bezos lives in a digital world and he can’t wait for the nuisance of buying paper and having it printed and delivered is over. He’ll now sell you the digital Washington Post for $99 a year—Amazon Prime members can get it free for six months. Maybe, he thinks, once I charge them $1,000 a year for the printed newspaper they’ll see the light and I can stop printing the damn thing.
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Jack Shafer tweets that “Newspapers everywhere have been jacking up the subscription price. At least Bezos puts something 0f value in his paper.”

Home delivery of the Chicago Tribune: $155.48 a year. Boston Globe: $207.48 a year. Seattle Times: $163.80 a year.

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