It’s midnight twenty five at NSFWCORP HQ, our worryingly unfortified office high above Downtown Las Vegas. Still, almost a dozen floors up we should at least be safe from the “severe thunderstorm” that the National Weather Service just splashed across the pilot episode of “Political Animals.” Frankly, the threat of being washed into a storm drain was the best part of that dripping-wet squib of a show.
Two days ago, Josh The Developer pushed the button on NSFWCORP’s subscription system, allowing the first of our $3 a month subscribers to peer around the gates. In the 48 hours or so that have passed since, those subscribers have just kept on coming, to the point where I’ve had to stop the “new reader” text message alerts being sent to my phone.
We’re still thousands short of the number we need to break even, of course, and tens of thousands shy of a point where we can do this until the day we die. But, far sooner than I or anyone else here expected, that point looks positively reachable.
Not that we’ve been without naysayers. Amid all the nice emails of congratulations and the equally welcome notes of constructive criticism, are those correspondents who feel obliged to inform me that you don’t exist.
To those correspondents, the notion that people might pay to read words on the Internet is a fantasy. A fiction. It simply does not happen. Or at the very least, the only way it does happen is if we allow customers to sample our apples before choosing whether to buy them. One “Nancy” writes …
“Before I sign up for a $3/month credit-card charge, I like to know what I’m getting.
Your cutesy come-on doesn’t do it for me.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Fuck you, Nancy.” And you have right on your side. But, still, Nancy has a point. Three dollars is a lot of dollars to commit, without at least the option to consume everything without paying anything.
“Not it isn’t,” you’re probably saying now. “Three dollars is the price of a cup of coffee.”
You didn’t pick that comparison at random. By comparing the price of words to that of coffee, you’re parroting the go-to pitch of every editorial salesman for the past half decade. Such are the vagaries of coffee pricing in America, any proposed “content” transaction — whether it involves 99c or ten dollars — can be compared favourably to the price of a cup of coffee. We can’t be many months away from the $100 cup of coffee — more expensive than this entire set of virtual encyclopedias.
For the record, the price of a cup of coffee in NSFWCORP’s local coffee shop is $2.49: a full 51c cheaper than a month-long subscription to this publication. If money is your deciding factor, go with the caffeine.
The truth is, there are a whole list of things that are cheaper than a subscription to Not Safe For Work Corporation, including many which blow our modest value proposition (“the future of journalism, with jokes”) out of the water.
For example, as recently as 2010, your three dollars could have paid for Newsweek not once, not twice but three times over. Not three copies of the magazine, but the actual Newsweek company, which then-91-year-old mogul Sidney Harman purchased from the Washington Post Company for just a buck. (Eight months later, Harman died, his life-long ambition of owning a sad, irrelevant magazine sadly and irrelevantly fulfilled. But it could have been worse. He could have been the guy who bought TV Guide for a dollar, back in 2008.)
One can argue day and night about the long-term value of Newsweek, but the rights to the Terminator franchise? That’s $1.4 billion of money in the bank. And yet, in 1984, James Cameron sold the whole damn thing to co-producer (and future ex-wife) Gale Anne Hurd for just a dollar. By that reckoning, your three dollars would get you “The Terminator,” “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” and “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.” But not “Terminator Salvation,” wisely.
Or how about an investment in medicine? In 2012, the Doctors Hospital in Perry Township, Ohio was sold for just one dollar, despite the property being conservatively valued at $6.8 million. It was a tax write-off, you understand, and a way to avoid paying the upkeep costs for the huge, abandoned building. But just think: your own hospital! You could do operations! Or race around on the trolleys! Just two of the things you can’t do with a subscription to Not Safe For Work Corporation.
In 2002 the jackpot in The Big Game (now Mega Millions) lottery jackpot stood at a little over $330m. That is, until the whole thing was won by three ticket holders, for a combined investment of just three dollars. The list goes on.
For the price of just a single month’s subscription to NSFWCORP, you could have bought two magazines and a hospital. Or two Terminator movies and $110 million dollars in cash. Or half of Newsweek and a cup of coffee at The Beat Coffee House on Fremont Street.
Yes, you could have chosen to buy any of those things but, unlike Nancy, you chose instead to subscribe to Not Safe For Work Corporation. For that, I’m unspeakably grateful, and maybe a little perplexed. Would I have done the same in your position? Perhaps I’d have snapped up Newsweek, availed myself of the perfectly good coffee machine on the fourth floor, expensed my NSFWCORP subscription and still had two dollars left for an ice cream Snickers. I don’t know. I’m not good with hypotheticals.
All I know for sure is that, on behalf of the entire, fast-growing NSFWCORP team (22 and counting!), I very much appreciate you risking your three dollars on our magazine. In return, I promise we’ll use every one of dollars to write, edit and publish the best magazine you have ever read, and will ever read. Or, like Sidney Harman, we’ll die trying.
Fuck you, Nancy.