Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian goes free

Posted by Colin Blackburn on August 1st, 2008

Colin Blackburn.

The Guardian crossword site currently states the following

Guardian crosswords are going free

From September 1 you will be able to access all of the Guardian’s crosswords online for free. As a result we are no longer accepting any new subscriptions.

Existing subscribers will receive the rest of August free of charge, and those with subscriptions that extend beyond that time will be contacted by email regarding a refund for the remainder of their subscription.

Come back in September, when you will be able to challenge yourself with over 4,000 of our quick and cryptic puzzles in our constantly updated archive, all for free!

11 Responses to “Guardian goes free”

  1. neildubya says:

    Great news. With the Indy and the FT already free, how long before the Times and Telegraph dump their subscription services?

  2. Andrew says:

    Interesting: I wonder what motivated this, and I hope it won’t mean the service gets worse – there are enough problems as it is for us paying customers. Maybe the editor’s newsletter (due out soon) will say more. I’m impressed they’re offering refunds, especially as I only renewed my sub a couple of months ago..

  3. neildubya says:

    I don’t think the level of service bears any relation to the cost of subscription. Just ask anyone unfortunate enough to have paid for the never ending series of technical problems otherwise known as the Times Crossword Club.

  4. Pasquale says:

    With some of you chaps the pint glass is virtually empty unless it is overflowing. Despite all the technical problems, I think that the subscription service represents good value for money if you don’t want to buy the paper. Are most online cruciverbalists just a load of grumpy old men? Sometimes I really do wonder!
    (On the other hand, maybe some are so young that they take IT itself for granted, as something humans have always had in a perfected state!)

  5. Paul B says:

    I’ve never understood the Guardian policy of charging online for silly little bits like the crossword, and not for the bulk of the paper including all the featured articles, cartoons etc.

    That subscription appears a non-starter possibly reflects this unlogic, but I wonder what effect the free availability of (most of) the paper online has had on profit. Negligible?

  6. Don Manley says:

    The crossword symbolises the dilemma faced by newspapers who know that they must offer an online service but also know that it’s hard to make money out of it(and indeed that they will go bust if all their readers only read online!). Given that many customers only want the paper for the crossword, the idea has been that you might make a bob or two by offering a subscription service for this specific feature – especially from those who are reluctant to buy a second expensive paper maybe. This looks like a perfectly plausible idea, but IT difficulties and the cost of administration may suggest that the idea doesn’t work out in practice. Maybe we’ll lose printed papers in another generation anyway (though Peter Preston in his Observer pieces seems to doubt it). On the whole, I am inclined if we want our puzzles, we should sympathise with those who are trying to make them available to us and that we should expect to pay for them. Yes, I do have a vested interest, but you don’t get owt for nowt in this world!

  7. Paul B says:

    I wish you’d do paragraphs. But anyway, thanks. I see the ploy, but if it has been unsuccessful I’m not surprised.

    As you note, market forces currently require all the papers to appear free online. And since, as you also point out, nothing of any quality ought to be free under capitalism, I’m interested to know how much of a chunk is either added to or subtracted from profits as a result. Is any significant amount recouped via the online banner advertising, for example, or other links?

    The only entity I pay for my online experience is my ISP – and that’s quite enough, thank you – and I’m thus very pleased that e-Araucaria will be back with me soon.

  8. muck says:

    I have found the subscription very good value – spending about 3 months/yr in Italy where we have to drive 40 mins to pay 3eu for the previous day’s paper. Having it free is even better value!

  9. nmsindy says:

    This is very good news. I think advertisers, esp in a downturn, are pushing newspapers to give free access as very few will pay to subscribe. And the Times has its archive (to about 1985) open to all.

  10. struggler says:

    The thing that has irritated me about past Guardian policy is not the lack of free access to the crosswords but the lack of information about each day’s setter. I don’t mind buying a Monday Guardian if it has a Rufus crossword, but I have had to come to this site (and sometimes wait a long time until someone gets round to posting) to get that key piece of information.

  11. Colin Blackburn says:

    I’ve come back late to this but I’m a bit confused by this last comment. What do you expect the Guardian to do? Can you not just take a peek inside the back page to see who the setter is and then buy the paper accordingly? It just seems a strange complaint.

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