Karen Peterson

Karen Peterson: TNT members get new apps and a calendar

News Tribune elves were busy last week bringing subscribers some early Christmas presents.

On Thursday, home-delivery subscribers received a 2014 wall calendar filled with South Sound photos taken by our award-winning photographers. A throwback to calendars we did years ago, the new ones were well received.

Also last week, just in time for folks who might get new electronic devices over the holidays, we upgraded the TNT tablet and smartphone apps. And we launched our first news app for Android tablets.

It’s all part of our new approach to selling subscriptions: Offer subscribers all of our products for a single price — the printed newspaper, the TNT website and our mobile apps. That way, people can read our news wherever they are and however they like. Then build on that bundle with new products from time to time.

I’m a news nut, admittedly, but here’s how I do it: I read the printed paper over coffee in the morning, the website at work, my smart phone app when I’m on the run and my tablet app in the evening. Thankfully, I don’t have to buy separate subscriptions for each product. We’re finding more and more readers with habits similar to mine.

Now that we’ve built the subscription bundles, we plan to continually perfect the products and add news ones — both print and online — as reader tastes and technology change.

We like to think of subscribers as members of the TNT. And we think membership should have its privileges.

Subscribers make a long-term financial commitment to our organization. (Although they pay about half as much as a person who buys the paper every day at the store, and they get the paper delivered for free.) Included in our subscription price for the past few years has been a series of “premium” editions filled with additional content.

In 2013, the seven premium editions included a 72-page puzzles and games book; Northwest Summer, a guide to local recreation venues and opportunities; a pro-football season preview section; and the calendar.

We’re working now on a travel section, scheduled to run in March, filled with best bets for regional weekend getaways.

People who pick up the paper at a newsstand don’t get these sections or calendars. They are a benefit to subscriber “membership.”

Likewise on the digital side, we’re upgrading and adding mobile apps for readers who pay for them as part of their subscription bundle.

The latest apps include several upgrades. Readers now can view photo galleries and videos on the story pages. And for the first time, they can comment on stories and view comments made by others. (You’ll need to click the word bubble icon on the top right side of the page to bring up the comment window.) The apps are available for Apple, Android, and Windows phones and tablets.

In coming months, we’ll add a breaking news rail on the tablet app front page and refine the design a bit more.

If you’re already using our apps, you’ll simply need to update them. If you haven’t downloaded them yet, go to the App store, the Google Play store or the Windows store, depending on your device, and download them.

In January, all of our subscribers will be able to download our new Capital Update app for tablets and phones. It will provide wall-to-wall breaking news coverage from the 2014 session of the Legislature by the largest Olympia bureau in the state — ours. The app will be free to subscribers. It will cost $49.99 for everyone else.

Our approach is becoming more common among newspapers across the country. They also are adding niche print and digital products to their “memberships.” Some are hosting subscriber-only events featuring local news-makers or newsroom staffers. We will explore those options in the future, as well.

Know this, we value our subscribers and will continue looking for ways to make a TNT membership worth their while.

Thank you for your support, and have a great holiday season.