Ask many consumers why they’ve stopped purchasing dead tree publications like newspapers, and chances are you’ll hear comments like “the cost is too high.”

Ask those same consumers what they expect when it comes to the digital/tablet versions of their newspapers of choice, and you’ll probably learn that they expect the cost to be lower. And for good reason: there’s no paper and ink to buy; the marginal cost of selling an issue of a newspaper on an iPad is pretty close to $0.

But don’t tell that to Rupert Murdoch. As Robert Andrews at paidContent:UK observes, the new iPad edition of News Of The World actually costs more on the iPad than it does in print:

The price – free for the opening weekend, then £1.19 ($1.85) in-app
thereafter for future editions. That’s £0.19 ($0.29) MORE EXPENSIVE THAN THE
PRINT EDITION.

Andrews notes that the iPad News of the World is built on an “awkward software engine” that may not provide the greatest interface, and which may offer a reading experience less enjoyable than simply opening up the News of the World website on the iPad.

So what gives? Chalk it up to the increasingly obvious lack of thought publishers are giving to the tablet economy. While Murdoch talks a good game about digital and consumer expectations, his ability to execute, thus far, seems less-than-impressive.

Here again, the iPad is being treated as a silo. As Andrews points out, there’s no indication that subscribers to the News of the World website receive iPad access. So if you want to go behind the News of the World paywall, you have to shell out £1 for 24 hours worth of access, or £1.99 for a month’s worth of access, and if you want to access News of the World on the iPad too, you have to shell out an additional £1.19 per edition.

Needless to say, this model is disjointed and confusing. Newspapers should be making it easy for readers to consume their content across multiple mediums without having to manage multiple subscriptions that treat each medium as a separate entity with separate seemingly arbitrary pricing. After all, the stronger the bond you can build with your readers, the more likely it is that they’ll continue to consume your content.

Rupert Murdoch may be right about paid content, and it’s still early in the game, but until newspapers truly start taking a ‘one publication, multiple mediums‘ approach, you can be sure that money is being left on the table.