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March 4th, 2010

Roger Ebert Tries Micropayments

Roger Ebert, a national treasure who recently got his voice back thanks to technology is rolling out The Ebert Club. For $4.95 per year you get a number of members-only benefits for his site and, of course, get to pay the guy for the work he’s done. Here’s the signup page.

Ebert also wrote up a blog entry on the whole idea of micropayments.

I remember with what glee Gene Siskel and I once pondered [Nicolas] Negroponte’s book [Being Digital], with its speculation on whether users would pay two cents to read two of our reviews. Negroponte actually used us as an example. Gene and I pounded on the office calculator: 250 reviews, times two cents, times 10,000 users, or 50,000 users, or three million users…wow! If three million people paid two cents for our reviews, there’d be $15 million for us to split! But, hey, even if 5,000 users paid two cents for half our reviews, we’d gross $12,500. Nice.

I think anyone who has run a hobby website has had similar calculations run through their heads. It becomes, “If I want to make a little money on this, how much would people pay? A dime? A quarter?”

Ebert’s price point is a good one, I think. His timing couldn’t be better what with his impressive media exposure and widely-recognized writing quality. It’s a good experiment and to be honest with you, I hope it works.

Posted in Technology

Joseph March 4, 2010, 9:46 pm

I think the internet has already proven that people don’t want to pay two cents for information that has already been considered free for a long time.

My guess is that people will read free reviews instead of bleagueiring VISA with micropayments. I’m sure the credit industry would rebel against it.

But, you know, I’ve missed the boat before with ideas like this.

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