It’s important to remember that even $55 million a year, while good money, is just 3.5 percent of the paper’s $1.55 billion in 2010 revenue. But the former number will continue to grow, and someday, the cost number will fall precipitously

Where does the NYT go from here?

The hardest-core Times readers online have probably already subscribed, and the growth rate has already started to slow. So don’t expect to see a half a million subscribers number in the third-quarter results. But subscriptions will continue to grow for a couple of years at least, and again, all this is gravy, because the Times is maintaining all of its digital ad revenue while adding the new stream (paywall critics usually failed to account for the fact that most newspapers don’t sell out their online ad inventory anyway).

I’ve long bought into Arkansas newspaper publisher Walter Hussman’s argument that adding a paywall online slows the decline of print circulation. It’s just common sense. So I’m going to guess that NYT print circulation declines will slow, particularly compared to non-paywall papers, and the next ABC report will show a huge spike for the Times as digital subscribers are added into overall circulation. The paper still has about a million paying print readers, and it will be adding roughly 300,000 digital ones, almost of all of whom, I’d suspect were not print subscribers or frequent purchasers.

As long as the Times still has a print edition, it’s going to put something of a ceiling on its potential digital subscriber base. But presumably, when the paper decides or is forced to go all-digital some day not too far away, most of those print readers will sign up for digital subscriptions.

Readers will pay good money for quality news, and the Times is off to a great start.

Further reading:

Felix Salmon: The New York Times Paywall Is Working.

The New York Times Paywall Looks Good. Leaky enough to preserve traffic and ads, but strong enough to add incremental revenue.

The NYT Will Charge Online. That’s a good thing.

Doing the Math on Online Subscriptions. What do newspapers have to lose?

Circulation Revenue Only Thing Growing at Newspapers. McClatchy and New York Times Company find a revenue stream that goes up.

NYT Now Gets As Much Money from Circulation as from Ads. A landmark event for the rapidly changing newspaper industry that points toward a new model.

Newspaper Readers Buy Papers for the Content. You’d think that would be obvious.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.