(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

A surprise price rise for News Corp’s tabloid newspapers last week suggests that the American company is giving up on print in Australia -- and wants you to, too.

For most of the life span of mass newspapers, the cover price has been more about signalling value and shifting consumer behaviour than about driving income -- and this move is no different.

Under cover of summer, News jacked up the cover price of its tabloid newspapers by an eye-popping 14% (Australia’s latest CPI figure is about 3%), taking the cost of buying the Monday to Friday issues of its remaining print papers up 30 cents to $2.50 a day.