“A Dollar? I Remember When the Post Only Cost a Quarter!”

By: Harry Jaffe

If it’s December, the Washington Post must be raising the price of its newspaper.

The Post notified retailers outside the greater Washington area Tuesday that the cost of a daily newspaper would increase 25 cents to $1 on December 13. The price of the Sunday paper will go up 50 cents to $2.50. UPDATE: Inside the Beltway and in counties bordering DC, the price for the daily will remain at 75 cents, but Sunday papers will cost $2 a copy, starting this Sunday.

Last December the Post added a quarter to the price of its daily paper and added 50 cents to the price of the Sunday edition.

Just two years ago, you could buy the Post for 35 cents. Back then it was the lowest priced major daily newspaper in the nation. And for many years it was just a quarter.

At a buck a copy, the Post is still a comparatively good buy. In May the New York Times raised its newsstand prices for the third time in less than two years. The daily Times costs $2; the Sunday Times sells for $6.

The Post and other newspapers are jacking up prices in an attempt to bring in more revenues that might offset drops in advertising. The risk is that raising the price of the print newspaper will drive more readers to replace it with the Post’s Internet site, where ad revenues are not as plentiful. Or readers might put their spare change to a cup of coffee.

At J&J Market on Route 7 in Virginia, regular customer Billy Martin issued this verdict: “The Post is going to wind up driving away readers.”