The most famous crossword puzzle in the world may belong to the New York Times. For more than 75 years, vocabulary junkies have been grabbing the paper and a pencil and taking a stab at the grid of empty squares.
Its popularity appears to be growing - partly thanks to subscriptions to an app. The company recently announced The New York Times Crossword App reached 400,000 standalone subscribers. That’s double the number it had two years ago.
Ren LaForme , the digital tools reporter at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, said while the Times may be best known for its journalism, the idea of offering fun and games isn’t foreign to newspaper companies.
“If you think about the history of newspapers, we’ve made money from classified (ads), people read the newspapers for the comics,” he said. “You know there are a lot of other things other than news in the newspaper that we’ve always enjoyed.”
The Times Crossword app works much like a typical puzzle, but a cell phone’s keyboard acts as the pencil. In addition to the daily crossword you also see in the hard copy paper, the app includes a mini-puzzle, which LaForme said takes somewhere between 30 and 90 seconds to do, “depending on how good you are at it.”
People who want just the app are shelling out $6.95 a month. People who also subscribe to the New York Times online pay half that, he said.
And the app also offers access to the paper’s archive of crosswords, he said.
"So you can take crosswords from months ago or years ago and they also offer speciality packs, which surround specific topics like comic books or movies or things like that,’’ he said.