Read the Philly Papers? Get a Half-Price Android Tablet

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Android tablets still not cheap enough for you? One newspaper publisher wants to help out.

The Philadelphia Media Network, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, announced that it’ll sell deeply discounted Android tablets—half-price or less—when bundled with newspaper subscriptions.

The tablets will come pre-loaded with newspaper apps, along with links to the papers’ online hubs, and will include e-commerce ads on the home screen, according to AdWeek. Initially launching as a pilot program with about 2,000 tablets, the publisher plans to expand the program later this year.

(MORE: Here Come the Cheap Android Tablets)

It’s not yet clear which tablets will be available, or exactly how much they’ll cost. In general, 10-inch Android tablets start at around $500, with some cheaper exceptions such as the Acer Iconia A500, so we can expect newspaper-subsidized tablets to cost roughly $250. Newspaper subscriptions, which normally cost $2.99 per week, will be bundled with the tablets at about half price.

Android may prove attractive for publishers who are turned off by Apple’s iPad subscription policies. Apple takes a 30 percent cut of all subscriptions on iOS devices and gives subscribers the choice to withhold their personal information from publishers.

(MORE: The Basics Behind Apple’s New Subscription Payments System)

This has been a sticking point for publishers (including Time, Inc.), and seems to have factored into Philadelphia Media Network’s decision to go Android. “We want to gain significant market share in this area, and we want to learn about consumer behavior,” the network’s CEO, Greg Osberg, told AdWeek.

The problem, so far, is that Android tablet sales have been less than stellar. A subsidized model may sweeten the deal for consumers while locking in subscriptions for publishers. Much of that will depend on the tablet hardware available, its exact pricing and the minimum subscription length that the Philadelphia Media Network will seek from customers.

The network has some time to figure that out. It’ll only sell 2,000 tablets when the pilot program begins this August, followed by a full-scale launch later this year.

MORE: Tablets: “Why Should Somebody Buy This Instead of an iPad?”

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