Akky Akimoto has an interesting article over on The Japan Times  website in which he gives an overview of the phenomenon of paid e-mail newsletters in Japan. Beginning in the late 90s, he notes that many content creators have looked to these solutions as a means of monetizing their content:
Many of those entering the paid-newsletter business have admitted that just writing quality information on a blog or on social media had not rewarded them financially. If they can attract a decent number of subscribers, then they get a constant income, which will make them financially stable and allow them to write better information, free from commercialism and other pressures.
It’s interesting to compare this with the recent phenomenon of bloggers in the West making the shift to membership blogs (see Shawn Blanc for example) or Marco Arment who recently launched ‘The Magazine’ on iOS Newstand. Such models won’t work for everyone, but it’s exciting to see what people are trying.
Disclosure: I also contribute a column to The Japan Times. ↩