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Wall Street Journal ups Web fees

Two years after pioneering the online subscription model, the Interactive Edition will raise its prices by $10 per year.

Two years after pioneering the online subscription model, the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition will raise its prices by $10 per year.

With 250,000 subscribers, the Journal has become one of the most successful subscription-driven sites on the Net. Now it is ready to start asking users to pay a little more.

Rates for annual subscriptions to its online content will increase from $49 to $59, confirmed Tom Baker, business director of the Journal's online edition.

While that may not sound like a lot of money, few traditional publications have successfully been able to charge users for Net content because so much information is available free of charge. For instance, papers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post offer their content for free, although many charge for archives.

The Journal, however, contains more than stories. It was one of the first sites on the Net to offer what is now common at many financial sites: charts, graphs, and other database information.

Net-based start-ups such as also have been able to offer information for a fee. But Web sites are constantly seeking more revenue, and while most rely on advertising, many have found that it's not enough. News and culture e-zine Salon, for instance, just launched an e-commerce section and for-fee membership area in an effort to bring in more money.

The Journal has been able to capitalize on its strong name in the industry. And now it feels like the time is right to raise the rates.

"Our response to the product has been great," Baker said. "Retention had been great and we feel it's time."

The Journal is not planning to make any formal announcements about its rate hike, but members will get notices as their subscriptions come up for renewal beginning November 1, he said.

Along with the rate increase, the paper will allow subscribers to retrieve articles for free for up to 30 days rather than the current two weeks. The online subscriber rate of $29 for paper subscribers will stay the same, Baker added.