“Why should I subscribe to your website? Isn’t the internet supposed to be free, like the air?”
Yes, most websites are, indeed, free, and you get what you pay for. If we had an endowment and the backing of wealthy donors, we might consider offering everything as a free gift to the American reading public. Unfortunately, we don’t. We are starting from scratch, and, with the exception of a few vendors, we are all at this point not only working for nothing: We are paying the bills out of our own pockets.
So, even if we wanted to give our work away, we could not afford it, but then we would find ourselves, once again, spending half our time rattling the begging bowl and kowtowing to donors. We don’t expect to cover all our expenses through subscriptions, which is why we are very happy to receive gifts—and subscribers can expect to be asked to make donations. Still, we want to make this operation as self-sufficient as we can. I hate to put it this way, but hard work and economic independence used to be the American way.
Some readers will tell us that they simply cannot afford to spend $7.99 per month on a website subscription. $7.99? That’s the price of a cheap bottle of drinkable wine and less than a month of streaming Netflix. Still, cheap as it is at this price, a subscription might be too costly for some people. That is why we are going to keep a large amount of material free to our reading public, though some of it will only be available to readers who have signed up.
If you do choose to subscribe, you will have access to all the restricted features of your subscription level, including my ongoing series of books, Properties of Blood, featured essays, and the latest columns as soon as they are posted. Paying subscribers will also be eligible for significant discounts on the print publications we are planning, not only on the books but on a series of Miscellanies in which some of the best website articles of enduring interest will be published, along with some material that has appeared.