Slate's new membership program Slate Plus launched Monday, and Editor David Plotz reels off some of the premiums in the $5 per month/$50 per year program he says will lead to a "a richer, smoother Slate experience" in his announcement: "special access to favorite Slate writers and editors." Early access to some features. A really nice-looking mug.
All of which pales compared to the most important benefit: No more paginated articles.
Slate will be sleeker for Slate Plus members. We know how much some of you dislike pagination: Slate Plus members will automatically get single-page articles throughout the site. Members will also be able to read and post comments directly on article pages, rather in a pop-up window, and we’ll highlight member comments.The membership is not a paywall -- all Slate's content is still free for cheapskates. (Though the idea of eliminating annoyances in exchange for cash may be interesting to publishers no matter how or whether they charge for content -- I would consider paying to never see "Read more" followed by a URL when I paste a quote into a blog post.)
Nieman's Josh Benton writes that Slate Plus' value "isn’t single-page stories or a pre-show spritzer with Emily Bazelon — it’s just the fact that it’s an opportunity for people willing to pay to do so."
There are Slate superfans whose relationship with the site stretches more than a decade. Slate’s done a good job of pushing the personalities of its writers, which strengthens those reader–website connections. I suspect for many who sign up for Slate Plus, the decision will be less of a cost–benefit analysis and more of a “sure, they’ve given me a lot of good stuff over the years — I’ll throw them some coin.” Think of people who give to their local NPR station: It’s not really for the totebag.