It seemed to me, when I entered into my ill-fated bet with John Gapper, that NYT readers would go for the free access bundled with the paper, rather than plump for digital-only access. But increasingly it seems that readers actively dislike having to manage a physical paper, and are willing to pay for making the whole experience virtual.

If that’s the case, then the least the NYT can do is to continue to invest in its iPad app. Right now the website is still superior to the app, except for offline reading. The app desperately needs search, and it needs to retain hyperlinks from the original articles, and it needs to somehow build in the sense of serendipity and of relative importance which newspaper readers love so much. It’s hard to tell what’s important, in the app, once you move off the front page. And it’s hard to have your eye caught by a great story you didn’t know you wanted to read. But those things will come, I’m sure. If only because there’s now a very healthy income stream — Doctor estimates it at more than $80 million per year — which can pay to help develop them.

Felix Salmon is an Audit contributor. He's also the finance blogger for Reuters; this post can also be found at