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October 28, 2012

The Future of Magazines - Electronic?

Needless to say, none of these magazines are actually mine.
A long time ago, I used to be a magazine reader. I had three or four magazines that I received every month, and also one weekly magazine (Maclean's) that I inevitably fell behind on.

Which is one reason why I have slowed down extremely on my magazine-reading: they just started piling up, unread. Why spend the money on them, and waste the paper resources that you just have to throw in the recycle bin, when you're not going to read them?

So I slowly let them lapse. Maclean's was pretty much the last one, and I let that die about a year ago. The conservative magazine National Review subscription died a number of years ago, and I briefly flirted with reading the digital edition online at their site, but let that one lapse too.

Maclean's still sends me the occasional "we miss you!" email and letter, which bear an uncomfortable resemblance to most of my dating life when I was younger. You can almost smell the scent of desperation and neediness. "Please, come back! Our life is not complete without you in it!" Not creepy at all.

I mean the magazine, not me.

But I digress...

That is slowly changing, however. It's all because of my iPad. Most of my magazine reading time was when I was eating dinner, sitting on the couch, and it was hard to be able to see the text in the magazine as it draped over my leg. I constantly had to shift it, and the print was sometimes pretty small and hard to make out and it just became too much effort for what little I was getting out of it.

The iPad can just rest comfortably in the crook of my leg as it's crossed over, the bright screen illuminating all the words and turning the page consisting of a simple swipe from right to left (or left to right if I'm going backwards). I can increase the font size if I need to, but I haven't had to do that yet.

It's like a renaissance for me. I now subscribe to three magazines: National Review, Playstation: the Official Magazine, and Game Informer through the Apple Newsstand. The only paper magazine I subscribe to is Xbox: the Official Magazine, and that's only because they refused to transfer my print subscription to the electronic version. Once it expires next Summer, I'm letting it lapse and going digital. Needless to say, I'm two issues behind on that one.

You're hearing more and more how magazines are going digital-only. Newsweek did it a week or two ago. There have been more before, and there will be more as time goes on. I think between the ease of use and the extreme waste of paper, dead-tree magazines may be dying sooner rather than later. Sooner than books, anyway.

Magazines are ephemeral creatures. They are consumed very briefly and then they are thrown away. Hopefully in a recycling bin, but they are thrown away. Books, you can make the case for having them on your bookshelf, available for re-reading. Who's going to re-read a magazine, unless it's a magazine of stories or something? They are one-shots ready to be turfed as soon as they have been used.

Yes, there's still that tactile feeling of having something in your hand, but while that sentiment has been expressed lovingly by book aficionados about that 300-page conglomeration of paper and ink, has anybody ever said that about a magazine?

Probably not.

So I have joined the digital revolution when it comes to magazines. I can also say that I am totally caught up, and I usually am caught up within a week of getting the magazine (I haven't subscribed to a weekly yet, and probably won't, with National Review just being bi-weekly).

I have to say that it's a really nice feeling.

How about you? Do you buy magazines? Paper or electronic? Do you find yourself moving away from paper now?

Tell us what your magazine-buying and reading habits are.


  1. Well. You already know what my stance is on this. No electronic readers! (Insert Joan Crawford-esque tone here.) I don't dispute that magazines in corporeal form are wasteful and kills trees, harm the environment, etc. Just recently, some big-name magazine announced (can't remember the specific one) that they are halting paper press and going strictly to electronic format. Their justification is that they're losing profits by printing paper press, and electronic feed will cut those profit losses.

    Okay, great. They just lost millions of people who do not own tablets, or who are not internet capable or savvy. Not every person walking the planet has a home computer for that matter, although I realize many will goggle in confusion at this statement. There are even more, including me, who don't own & can't afford tablets. I think it's a poor marketing decision to go strictly to electronic distribution, and I do fear the repercussions of this action on the publishing market.

    I'll remain stubbornly in the old fashioned category of holding books/magazines in my hands to read. If I have to pay more for this, I will. My eyes, my brain and my body need a respite from the bombardment of electronics and LCD screens!

    - Dawnie

  2. Hey Dawnie!!!!

    You know I love your Luddite tendencies. :)

    Newsweek is the one you're thinking of (I mentioned them in the post), and the thing is, if they were making money with the print edition, they would have kept it. People just weren't buying it.

    So I wouldn't say that they've lost paper readers like you. They had already lost them, because those people weren't subscribing to them.

    You and I will offset each other, at least as far as magazines go. So for every you that they may lose, they may pick up a me, so they break even. :)


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