Why is it so hard to buy a copy of The New York Times?

Sunday Times in His Name Square, 1970

Sunday Times In his name square, 1970 AD.
Photo: Scott McPartland/Getty Images

Reading the Sunday New Yorker was a symbol of Manhattan sophistication. Times Saturday night. Any newsstand or corner deli received copies in the evening, and the Sunday paper was, at that time, a very large, eight-or-pound news publication. Newsboys would collect the parts and stack the finished papers on the wall on the sidewalk. At their peak in New York, in the 1950s, 1,500 independent news outlets in Manhattan circulated hundreds of dailies, weeklies, and magazines, and despite the disappearance of too many papers to list, the faith persisted. , we can always buy a copy Times In the city itself.

Try to find one in downtown Manhattan these days, though. It is more difficult than you expect. Most bodegas and delis no longer carry it. Neither does Starbucks. A spokesperson for the New York Times said: Times The overall decline in print subscription revenue (2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021) was “driven by lower single copy sales,” but declined to share any information on retailer counts beyond the claim that “both have wide distribution in Manhattan.” Home delivery and newsstand.

So we set out to see just how dire the newspaper buying situation is. There are 276 licensed news outlets left in Manhattan, more than half between 14th and 59th streets, according to the Department of Consumer and Employee Protection. However, on a recent summer’s day, half the stops in Gramercy and Chelsea were closed, even on arteries like 23rd. And they’re not being replaced: there were 66 applications for newsagent licenses in 2019, but fewer than 20 since then. The limited newsstand (such as Cassa Magazines on 12th Street and Eighth Street, or Newspapers on 23rd) carries Chinese, Spanish, and Greek-language newspapers, as well as The Jewish Press and the The voice of Ireland) is almost extinct.

Even finding an open newsstand is no guarantee of snagging the paper. According to the DCPP, a licensed newsagent “must sell newspapers, magazines or periodicals” but selling the news has become unsustainable for many. Newsstands make money not from paper, but from gum, candy, and phone accessories, and they can’t sell anything big. In 2019, new york He quoted an attorney representing the New York City Newsstand Operators Association as saying, “Newsstand operators . . . feel lucky if they sell 50 newspapers a day.” After living through the outbreak, several operators told me they were lucky to sell 15. Many have stopped trying to sell papers altogether. The only newsstands still selling more copies are the big ones in Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal.

Of the 16 newsstands I checked between 14th and 34th streets in a recent week, several were closed, and a total of two had papers for sale. An operator who says he’s been working on newsstands since 1987 has put digital news on the wire, but says the coronavirus has hurt his execution. He closed it for 18 months when the outbreak hit, and when he was able to reopen, he said, “No customers, in the six months I’ve been open. Nobody buys. After a month or two, he stopped delivering papers. A few blocks away, another Newsstander employee said he was still getting the hang of it. Times But now, if business doesn’t pick up by the end of the month, the boss is thinking of canceling their order. Like delis and bodegas, the Times Appeared three times out of 20. A working, entirely unscientific theory: The more likely a deli has “marketplace” or “gourmet” in its name, the less likely it is to sell the paper, if it sells anything at all. CBD product, you’re totally in luck.

Bookstores are also hit or miss: Barnes & Noble gets the paperback every day, but even Strand and McNally Jackson don’t. Many 7-Elevens carry the paper. In the year City roads.

A few news outlets are catching on. It’s hard to find better foot-traffic real estate than at 14th and University Place, and the man behind the bench there, who asked to be referred to only as “the newsstand,” still gets a roll of paper every day. “I was standing in the cold selling New York. Times – That’s how I started,” he recalled. “We sell 60, 70 copies of the first edition, 200, 300 copies of the latter in the slow spot. A thousand copies per day in the terminal. On a recent summer Tuesday, despite the street traffic, tourists on the streets, people loitering in the park, it sold a total of six. He says he only sells when there’s big breaking news, or Wednesdays for the food section, which is another way people tend to use copycats. Times Nowadays, they use Twitter and Yelp the same way: for breaking news and reviews, and maybe recipes. “Do you want a future?” The reporter said. “Don’t go to newsstands.” Some don’t even sell the current record.

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