Rules of the New York Times Paywall

The New York Times will activate its paywall at 2pm ET (11am PT) today. While the word “paywall” evokes the idea of an impermeable barrier that you will only be able to breach by getting out your credit card, the reality is far more complicated. Indeed, according to the New York Times’ own estimates, only about 20% of its readers will ever encounter the paywall at all.

Prices for access to the New York Times’ articles start at $15 for access to the website and the smartphone app and top out at $35 for access to the website, smartphone (Android, iPhone, BlackBerry) and tablet app. As a special introductory offer, though, you will be able to buy 4 weeks of access with any device for $0.99. Once the introductory offer expires (assuming the pricing hasn’t changed by then anyway), the cheapest way to get full access to the New York Times will be to get a Sunday-only print subscription. These qualify for full digital access. Prices vary depending on where you live, but are always cheaper than the digital subscriptions.

Stone flickr credit spcbrass

Rules of the Paywall:


  • print subscribers get full access to the New York Times on all devices.
  • if you don’t pay, you get to read 20 articles for free per calendar month.
  • access to the home page, section front pages and the classifieds don’t count towards this limit.
  • if you click on a video or slideshow that is related to the article you are reading, this click will not count towards the monthly article limit [/list]

Breaching the Wall with Social Media Links and Search Engines [list]

  • links from Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social media services will count towards your limit of 20 free articles – but you can still continue to read articles this way after you hit the paywall limit.

    Here is how this works in practice: Say most of you interaction with the NYTimes comes from heading to the site because of links you’ve seen on Facebook. You read 15 articles on by coming from Facebook. You also read 5 more articles by browsing the homepage. You have now hit the 20 article limit and can’t read any more stories by coming from, but you will still be able to read articles your friends share with you on Facebook or Twitter.
  • you only get 5 free articles from Google searches per day (they also count towards the 20 article limit, but just like social media links, will allow you to continue reading after hitting the limit). The same goes for other “major” search engines like Bing.[/list]

Getting Around the Paywall

How hard is it to get around the paywall?

It’s actually pretty easy (assuming you don’t want to use the smartphone and tablet apps). The easiest way right now is to install this bookmarklet. The paywall was implement in such an amateurish way that, once installed, clicking this button will simply let you through whenever the dialog asking you to pay for access comes up.

If that seems to complicated, just follow these New York Times Twitter accounts and create your own personalized newspaper this way.

Image credit: Flickr user Shawn Carpenter.