A small business owner in Budapest, though, might feel that $20 a month for The New York Times online is less attractive than the search costs involved in tracking down a handful of interesting articles each week. But a price of $9 a month might be worth it for his time saved.

In blueprinting its online paywall, The New York Times is likely focusing on what readers in New York, Orlando, and Houston will pay, giving less thought to millions of readers outside the U.S. They should proceed with caution, though. “As with anything powerful, prices must be handled with care,” wrote Eduardo Porter in The Price of Everything, noting also that, “Moving people requires a price.” Yes it does, and asking the same price for online news from every person everywhere might not move the most customers. Porter is also on the editorial board of The New York Times. His colleagues should read his book.

Justin D. Martin is a journalism professor at Northwestern University in Qatar. Follow him on Twitter: @Justin_D_Martin