Running a subscription-oriented publication on the net is an interesting
challenge, to say the least. Here at LWN, thanks to the generosity of our
readers, we have actually made a qualified success of it. Even more
challenging, though, is asking those readers to pay more in uncertain
economic times and in an industry where prices normally fall. Please read
on for a discussion of what we're doing and why.
But first! Let us try to distract you with shiny stuff. We have added a
few new features to the site:
LWN moved to the subscription model in September 2002, well over seven years
ago. The basic individual subscription rate was established at $5/month
then, and has not changed since. Over that time, baseline inflation in the
US has added up to just over 20% (according to the US government, which
would never lie to us about a thing like this), so that $5 buys rather less
than it did then. The value of the dollar has also declined significantly
since 2002, so the large portion of our readership which pays in other
currencies has seen a nice price decrease. That's even still true for
people in the Euro zone.
Additionally, official inflation rates become totally irrelevant when it
comes to large expenses like health insurance, which went up 40% last year
alone. Much to our surprise, the current US administration has not actually
fixed that problem for us.
All this explains why LWN lost an editor in March despite the fact that our
readers have been incredibly loyal to us during the whole economic roller
coaster ride. We have stabilized our finances, but we find ourselves in a
position of working at a pace which will certainly lead to eventual burnout.
Something needs to change
to enable us to address those problems and not only keep LWN alive
but continue to make it better in the coming years.
So we will be increasing our subscription rates as of June 14, 2010. The
new individual "Professional Hacker" rate will be $7/month, with the other
rates scaled accordingly. This increase, we hope, will offset the
increases we have seen, enable us to rebuild our finances, and, eventually,
allow us to bring staff back to its previous level. But that only works if
our subscribers do not leave in disgust; needless to say, we will hope you
will stay with us. In return, we'll make the best of the increase and,
with any luck at all, not do it again for a very long time.
To answer a couple of anticipated questions: prepaid subscriptions
remain valid for the purchased period; the increase only affects
subscriptions purchased on or after June 14. Monthly
subscriptions are a bit more complicated. We have never believed that
our readers wanted to give us permission to charge their cards forever, so
monthly subscriptions have always had a maximum number of authorized
charges associated with them. All monthly subscribers will continue to be
charged the old rate for the number of months they had authorized before
this announcement was posted. Only when those subscribers explicitly
authorize further charges will the new rate come into effect.
Rates for group subscriptions will change by a roughly proportional amount;
we will be contacting our group subscribers at renewal time to discuss the
We're a little nervous about this change; it's hard to ask for more from
the people who have already supported us so well for so long. But we
cannot really find a way around it. We very much hope that you will stick
with us as we work to build an even better and more interesting LWN in the
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