the Wall Street Journal's box

Wall Street Journal newspaper distribution box

Recently a Wall Street Journal newspaper box showed up at the Independence Avenue exit of the Smithsonian metro stop in Washington, DC. Unlike the traditional front-loader, this box is a large, thick-walled top-loader.  It sells copies for $2.  It even offers the option of paying by credit card.

A street vendor about 10 yards away sells bottles of cold water for $2.  Under a labor theory of value, the fully allocated cost of a copy of the Wall Street Journal surely is much higher than a bottle of cold water. But the bottle of cold water probably provides more pleasure.

In the Internet age, literally trying to sell information on the street doesn’t seem like an alluring proposition.  Some persons on the street may desire an emotional connection. However, emotional connections tend to be idiosyncratic, and emotional connections are difficult to provide commercially, at volume.  Providing dynamic sensory stimuli, in contrast, has a long business history of success.

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