Continuing the significant changes unfolding at the Wine Advocate over the past six months, the publication has announced new terms and rates for trade subscribers. Previously, subscriptions were line-priced at $99 a year. Going forward, trade subscriptions will be $199. What do they get for the extra fee? Employees can use the same login. And trade accounts get to reproduce the WA’s scores and tasting notes as shelf talkers.
This is a bizarre choice for at least three reasons: it’s hard to enforce, any enforcement would breed ill-will among the trade, and it significantly reduces free marketing for the publication in the form of shelf talkers. Retailers who use scores are not loyal to publications; rather, they are mostly loyal to high scores and will use whichever is highest and free of legal entanglements/copyright issues.
Further, the new T&C insist on the shelf talkers use RPWA–Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate–for the publication as well as identify the critic by initials and use the publication’s logo.
I guess the new owners are making a calculated risk that by doubling the price, fewer than half the trade subscribers will bolt and they will still come out ahead on revenues. To me, it’s hard to see how these changes will expand the audience for “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wine.” If you’re in the trade, what do you think of the new rates and terms?