Hmmm ...

The New York Times reports in its latest monthly figures that TimesSelect had 763,000 subscribers by June. That's up about 21% just since the start of the year.

The problem? As the company itself admits, most of those TimesSelect "subscribers" are actually just getting free access to the service because they already subscribe to the print version of the newspaper.

The number willing to pay extra for access to TimesSelect?

Just 29% -- a mere 221,000. That figure has risen a miserable 8,000 since the start of the year.

Or, to put it simply, of the 12.5 million who read The New York Times online, fewer than one person in 57 has so far been willing to pay extra to read the Times' big-name columnists online. Let's allow that some of those print subscribers would pay for the service if they stopped getting the paper each morning.

The numbers still aren't very impressive.

What must make this especially galling for the newspaper establishment is that Sulzberger really isn't charging very much for access to TimesSelect. The fee, in fact, is almost insultingly low: $50 a year, or less than $1 a week.

For that you get all the editorials, guest columns and, of course, the latest musings of Dowd, Rich and the gang.

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