In Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content, Clay Shirky references the idea of mental transaction costs, and their role in the failure of micropayment systems. While I understand his rationale, I find myself hoping that time will prove him wrong.
I know that I don't mind paying for content; I gladly coughed up some change for Scott McCloud's The Right Number, for example. I would like to think that there are other, equally-frustrated readers who would pay for the diamonds in the rough, so to speak, or even for help in finding them. Shirky claims that "the good stuff is becoming easier to find as the size of the system grows" and I find myself shaking my head. Google is an amazing tool, but it's no substitute for a good recommendation.
To use another example, I would make micropayments for issues of First Monday. I can't imagine trying to find essays of that calibre using Google, but even if I could, there are many topics that I've only developed an interest in after reading that journal. My respect for their editors makes that time investment less of a gamble. And really, this is all about using my time wisely (to quote one of my high-school teachers). I could troll the ocean of amateur blogs, or I could pay someone else to.