By: Joe Strupp
The Christian Science Monitor in Boston became only the second daily newspaper in the United States to charge $1 a copy when on Friday it raised its cover price and increased its annual subscription rate by about 5%.
With the price hike, the Monitor joins The Wall Street Journal in charging a buck a copy. The New York Times prices its national edition at $1, but its regular metro edition remains 75 cents a copy.
“It’s purely a cost of doing business,” said Stephen Gray, Monitor managing publisher. Gray said the paper’s overall operating costs had risen by 25% since the last increase in 1999. “As a result, we’ve had to reconfigure the price.”
Along with the 25-cent cover-price increase, the Monitor raised its annual subscription rate to $199 from $189. The last subscription hike occurred in 1999 when the price went to $189 from $168 yearly. The single-copy-sales price had not been raised since 1994, when it went to 75 cents from 50 cents, Gray said.
The price hike is expected to bring in about $500,000 more in annual revenue, Gray said. He added that the paper did not expect a major loss in circulation or advertising — and it may seek another price hike in about 18 months. Circulation has been up in the past year, growing to 68,491 in September from 67,061 a year earlier, according to the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulations data. Nearly all of the paper’s circulation, 93%, comes from subscriptions, while just 7% is from single-copy sales.
Owned by the First Church of Christ, Scientist, the Monitor is unusual in that it provides national and international news to a small audience and is delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Gray said the rising cost of postal rates is the chief reason for the price hike.
The price increase comes just months before the Monitor plans to unveil a new paid online edition, similar to the kind provided by Austin, Texas-based NewsStand Inc. Subscribers will be able to download a complete copy of the paper using the Internet for a fee. A free copy of the paper in Adobe’s portable document format (PDF) is currently available on the Monitor‘s Web site (http://www.csmonitor.com).