In an effort to retain a dwindling readership, some newspapers are equipping vending machines with credit and debit card readers. According to Advertising Age, The Wall Street Journal installed card readers on 190 newspaper boxes located in the greater New York area
. It's a matter of convenience for customers, since many more people carry a Visa or Mastercard in their pockets than do quarters. The WSJ isn't the first -- nor the last -- to try this approach. The Tribune Company has been testing card readers on five boxes in Chicago for six months now, and The New York Times began testing card readers on some of its machines about a year ago. Even USA Today has tested digital payment on about 60 boxes, located in airports across the country, and The New York Post plans to begin testing the technology on ten machines soon.
However, according to Ian Jackson, VP for circulation at The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, vending machines account for less than 5-percent of total sales. None of the machines equipped with boxes have shown an increase in sales, either. But installing card readers isn't about creating new revenue; it's about keeping the sinking ship afloat for a while longer. Newspapers simply can't afford to lose any more customers, and that could very well happen if they don't provide easier methods of payment. Still, unfortunately, the option to buy a paper with a card, which we welcome, could be too little and way too late. [From: Advertising Age