If there’s anything I love in the world of print journalism, it’s the Sunday New York Times. There are so many sections exploding with glorious information waiting to be devoured, from the Magazine to the special fashion inserts. This is precisely why, when I saw a New York Times sale booth a few weeks ago with lovely tote bags being offered for subscribers that I felt that I had to bite. I knew exactly what I wanted — the Sunday New York Times.

I told the person selling the subscriptions exactly that. I said that my favorite part of Sunday was reading the Sunday Times and that my favorite part of the Sunday Times had to be the magazine. He said that I could easily accomplish this by getting the Sunday only subscription. I explained that I didn’t want to get the Saturday and Sunday subscription because I usually wasn’t able to read the Times on Saturday, being busy with Shabbos plans — going out for a meal, reading about the weekly Torah portion, that kind of Holy thing that just didn’t leave room for finding about the Week in Review.

No problem, he told me again — I could look forward to my favorite parts of the Sunday Times just by subscribing to the Sunday only subscription series. Moreover, I would be able to get the Times on any e-device that supported it, and get behind the Pay Wall for no additional money — all for about ten dollars a month. I told my wife that even if two of the Sunday papers were bums, the other two would more than make up for it since buying the Times at the newsstand in New York is about five dollars a pop.

That very Sunday I was confused by what looked like a very thin looking distinct blue New York Times bag. I brought it in and took out the paper and found that it was missing sections — even more importantly, it was missing my Magazine! I called the toll free number that required a few searches and, after the automated service detected and confirmed my delivery address, reported the paper as incomplete. It told me that my account would be credited with half of the newsstand cost. Alas, I thought, and went on with my day.

The following Sunday I found that there was no paper at all. I called the number again and reported it missing and it said that I could get the paper redelivered. I went for this option. Only a few short hours later I returned from a round of shopping with my wife and baby and found the paper there, and yet again it was missing my favorite parts of the Sunday Times. I called to report it missing and it insisted that since I had already called once that I should speak with a — get ready for it — real human being.

I told the human representative what had happened and he replied that this was how it should have been — only part of the paper would come on Sunday, and the good parts actually only came on Saturday with a Saturday-Sunday subscription. I beg your pardon, I hastily said, but I am not interested in the Saturday paper — I only want the Sunday paper. Yes, he agreed, but in order to get the Sunday paper in its entirety I would need to subscribe to both Saturday and Sunday.

That doesn’t make sense, I argued. Why would I get some of Sunday’s news on Saturday before Sunday even happens? He explained that certain sections came with the Saturday paper and the rest of it came on Sunday. It was almost like a treat to subscribers — getting their favorite sections a day early. I did not see it that way — it was more like coercing me to get the extra day. He explained that it would be an extra seventy cents per week to get both days instead of just the one.

I quickly did the math (two dollars and eighty cents for the month) and decided that once again, The New York Times won and got me into a now thirteen dollar a month subscription rather than a ten dollar a month subscription. At the present that still costs less than what you ultimately pay for a digital only subscription — nearly four dollars a week or sixteen dollars a month. At the end of the day, it will be worth seeing how much Sunday content I end up actually enjoying and whether it will be worth keeping the subscription when it bumps up after six months.

Nevertheless, it still burns being forced to subscribe to a day I don’t want in order to enjoy all of a day that I do want. I say call Saturday Saturday, and call Sunday Sunday — don’t tell me that Sunday is Sunday when it really is half of Saturday and half of Sunday.

8 Comments

  1. Wonderful story and frankly scary because big business only wants more of it. I like my sleepy island.

    Having said that, to help a blood-pressure problem my doctor gave me advice that I have now stuck with for four yearss now. I cancelled all my subscriptions (other than some legal journals that I cannot get otherwise) for the simple reason that the walk down the hill to the paper-shop was better for my health.

    My Doctor would ask you Gordon to consider the value of a walk each Sunday morning is worth 26 dollars? Saving you 13 dollars that you did not spend and thus giving that value, if you decided not to go. All tongue-cheek-of-course.

    D Charles QC

    1. Great question, D Charles. I would say that if it were a matter of going to the market to buy the Times I would procrastinate. Other things would come up and take my time and I would say, I will go out and get it after I change Chaim’s diaper but then I would let myself keep getting preoccupied with other Sunday tasks until the day would come to a close, sans Times and with an extra five dollars!

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