torontostarHot on the heels of their successful eReads weekly e-book subscription, The Toronto Star is expanding their digital offerings to include digital subscriptions to the newspaper itself.

The somewhat confusing announcement offered a mishmash of different price points, with print subscribers who pay by automatic withdrawal getting it for free if they subscribe by December 31 and then escalating prices for print subscribers who don’t pay by automatic withdrawal and for people who don’t subscribe to the print edition at all.

What you get for this digital subscription doesn’t sound too inspiring, to be honest. You get ‘full access’ to the website (I visit it daily myself and have yet to run across content I’m interested in which isn’t freely available) and you also get a ‘replica edition’ of the print paper, which they say is ‘an exact digital copy of the daily printed paper with added interactive features.’ Yay?

There are a few things about this announcement which strike me as a little strange. Firstly, I am not sure that the road to digital success is to offer people a mere replica (with ‘interactive features’) of the product you sell in print. That strikes me as a not terribly imaginative way to rework the model here. And also, I am not sure why they are complicating things with all these extra rules. Why must people sign up by December 31? Why are they punishing the readers who, while loyal customers same as anyone else, choose not to pay by automatic withdrawal?

Their e-book subscription plan, to which I subscribe, was a fresh and innovative thing, and has been a good product. This new offering sounds a little ho-hum to me.