It all comes down to one page that I found linked up in my facebook stream tonight, thanks to the orignal poster for the link:
There are so many things wrong with this that I don't even know where to begin.
First off, yeah, it sucks that big pharmaceuticals are making obscene amounts of money. As someone who pretty much lives by a ration of pills to keep me 'sane' or 'stable' or whatever, I know what it means to have to take something every day, forever, no choice. There aren't a lot of options out there, and the prices can be crazy. I don't honestly know because up until now I've been getting my drugs as free samples, trying to find the right medication. The one prescription I've filled I did so while I was on the state funded health care for poor people, MN Care, so I don't have any idea how much I'm going to be paying each month to the big chemical companies. Of course they are ripping me off. I'm essentially an addict now, I have to keep coming back for the drugs.
Anyway, that sucks. Good thing they did an article about it. I would love to read this article, spread it to all of my friends, have them tell their friends. This is how you get people involved and caring and moving and how you get change done. If this is such a problem and something people should care about, then wouldn't you think that you want to broadcast the knowledge to as wide of a viewing audience as possible?
But no, instead we have a teaser for the article, and the option to pay 32 dollars to read it. For 32 dollars I could buy a book on the pharmaceutical industry, is this article going to be the equivalent? Maybe. I have no way of knowing. I'm not going to be buying the full article, I simply can't justify that kind of expense. Maybe a dollar or two, but not thirty two dollars. And from the looks of it, this is a magazine, not a book, so why the difference in price? How much is the monthly subscription?
Then you look around at the rest of the site and there is absolutely nothing for social networking or sharing. There is a little subscription area on the main page of the journal:
There you can follow them on twitter or find them on facebook, but again, there is no interaction from the end user. No way for you to leave your voice, no way for you to even join in and make the voice of the author's louder by shouting 'me too' and sharing it across your social network.
Maybe I'm putting too much stock into the social aspects of web design, but I think that anyone trying to make a website that publishes content onto the web should look very closely at how that content is going to be found and shared across the web.
I also just really hate the idea of restricted content on the web. I think that only good things can come from free and open public access to knowledge. I know there are probably people that differ from me on this one, though. My dad's a journalist, I'm sure a lot of his friends would be proponents of payment for the service of actually researching and writing the articles. And believe me, I know what it's like to work and work and not get paid for it.
The question is - how much do you charge for it and how do you get readers? What these guys are doing is asking 160% of the cost for a monthly subscriber to access the article. Presumably, then if you are a print subscriber you can access the online for free. But apparently you cannot be a digital only subscriber.
I think they'd probably do a lot better if they were to offer single articles for a price that most people wouldn't mind paying, a few dollars at most. Even better if it can be worked into a mobile version where the person can pay with their phone, not sure if that's possible or not, but it would be sweet.
Maybe I'm way off base, I don't know what kind of content they actually have in this magazine, mostly because I can't access it. Maybe they work better with a simple one-to-many broadcasting strategy that requires they have a network of subscribers and no other revenue streams.
At any rate, it does give me a good idea for a marketplace add on for concrete 5, a nicely styled 'article page' with some ajax goodness to show the pages of the article, and it would display a content restricted message if you haven't bought the article, then let you buy the article if you want it. I mean, I hate everything that's happening here, but I also see how there is value in it, and how if it were done properly it could be a really good way to run a journalistic website that publishes articles.
Question is, could I live with myself if I were making money off of an add on like that? I have no doubt that I could write an add-on that tied in with the ecommerce system (hell, I'm even supposed to be in on the beta for the next version that's due out soon) with no problem. It would make things nearly seamless and I know it would sell.
Yeah, I think I could live with myself.