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Peter Kafka

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The Wall Street Journal Signs Up for Apple’s Subscription Service

wsj ipadIt took a while, but they’re in: The Wall Street Journal is now selling digital subscriptions via Apple’s “Newsstand” service.

That means Dow Jones’ business newspaper has joined thousands of other magazines and newspapers that market their stuff through Apple’s iTunes store — in exchange for giving Apple a cut of sales, and control over their relationship with their customers. (News Corp., which owns Dow Jones, also owns this Web site.)

The move is worth noting because up until now the Journal was one of the highest-profile print publishers that wasn’t selling app access via Apple. Earlier this year, Time Inc., which had been the most prominent holdout, also signed on.

The move means that Apple will retain 30 percent of all subscription revenue the Journal receives from “in-app” sales, and it will retain control of customer billing information like credit card numbers and billing addresses.

Like other publications, the Journal will be able to ask subscribers to submit their email addresses, a strategy that publishers say has been effective.

No comment from reps at Apple or Dow Jones. Sources noted that former Dow Jones president Todd Larsen, who left the company last summer, had opposed selling subscriptions via Newsstand.

The Journal will still be able to sell digital subscriptions, which include the use of its Apple apps, via its own Web site. It will retain all of the revenue and customer data for those sales.

The move also makes it much easier for Apple customers to become Wall Street Journal customers, since they can use their existing iTunes account to pay for the paper. And it makes it easier for them to read the paper, since Newsstand gives developers the ability to update their publications automatically via “background” downloads.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work