All that said, Jeff Jarvis, who I often find to have drunk a little too much of the Kool-Aid, does raise a good point that's often overlooked in the whole print vs. digital debate when he says:
Don’t let anyone tell you that this is bad for the content business. It’s only good sense. Having worked in the magazine business, I saw this even at the dawn of the internet: As I said above, a magazine has to pay up to $30-40 in marketing costs to acquire subscribers; it can pay up to $5-7 to print and distribute a copy of a glossy magazine; it has high editorial costs. Add that up, and a magazine can find itself in the hole $60 or more per subscriber in the first year of a subscription. And they get as little as $1 per issue in subscription revenue. Yet clearly, a magazine can make money because that subscriber’s value to advertisers is much greater.
It’s the relationship that is valuable. It’s the relationship that is profitable, not the control of the content or the distribution.
Well said and exactly right: The amounts spent on acquiring readers for print publications is huge, and it's much simpler online where good content can act as your best marketing tool. Toss in the actual physical cost to print (not write) and distribute and you've got even more money on the table. Take all that out of the equation and you begin to make up the losses due to the lower cost of online advertising.