As a 30-something General Manager of an start-up company, I no longer buy the Australian or the AFR hardcopy versions – I subscribe to both using www.newsstand.com.

Each morning, rain, hail or shine at 3am they send me an exact electronic copy of the paper. This is not the same as going to www.smh.com.au or www.afr.com, what they send me is a complete digital delivery, including all ads, the magazine liftouts (AFR Boss, Weekend etc) – in an easy to read format for my PC.

It’s interesting to see how many of our traditional publishers “get” this concept – as you’d think that the pricing would be much less than the news stand price, or even the home delivery price as they don’t have to physically ship the paper to your letterbox or office.

The Australian gets it (and was the first Australian paper to offer their edition digitally) and have a price that is “up to 63% below news stand price”. But our friends at Fairfax haven’t quite switched onto this digital delivery route yet. While they do deliver the AFR electronically, the price for 52 weeks of digital delivery is still $729 – the same subscription price for the hardcopy version. The other annoying rule that the AFR forces on newsstand.com is that after 8 days, the papers that you have downloaded and paid for become “unavailable” in your local PC’s library of past stories. The Australian let you keep what you’ve bought – forever.

Other US digital delivery companies such as www.zinio.com are realising the much cheaper delivery options by going digital. Gone of the days when I pay $18 for a copy of Business 2.0 at the airport news stand – I can now have it digitally delivered each month for around $A1.00 and read it “offline” while travelling.

The software to read these online versions is also well advanced – you can zoom in, even do a text search and print some (but not all) pages.

If you travel a lot like me, you will want to make the switch to digital newspaper delivery – but when will Fairfax understand that the pricing needs to reflect that the delivery is digital and not physical.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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