March 30, 2009

Magazines have always been one of my great loves. Something about the format, the content, and the intent of a magazine has fascinated me for decades. They feel like little “escapes” into a different world on a regular basis.

The flow of magazine subscriptions into my home has been significant and consistent for a long time. At least a dozen different titles every month, with some weekly and some monthly. Even now I still get a little rush of excitement when each issue arrives.

Of course, as with all media magazines are faced with some fundamental changes and massive challenges ahead. The economics of publishing are no longer very favorable for anyone, especially smaller publications. Advertisers are evaluating the best places to spend their money and diminishing subscriber bases are not the most attractive option. Even the Green movement is pushing on publishers to reduce their environmental impact.

One of the shifts taking place is the move to digital publishing. Zinio is the most well-known solution in this space. They present a gorgeous full-color version of a magazine, ads included, online in a dedicated reader. It is an excellent experience, also available on the iPhone. Worth checking out.

Amazon, of course, is in the magazine game as well. You can order a subscription to just about any magazine imaginable on their site. More interestingly, however, is the ability to subscribe to magazines for the Kindle. I was very skeptical of this at first, so took advantage of the two week free trial period for a couple of magazines. In particular, I was interested in how The New Yorker would work on this reading device, especially given how text heavy it is. (I didn’t even bother with any image-centric magazines – I know what the screen looks like on my Kindle).

The experience for me was very mixed. It was wonderful being able to read the long articles the same way I read books on the Kindle. But, it didn’t feel like a magazine to me at all. The TOC was difficult to understand and there were a handful of cartoons thrown in as single page images.

It made me realize that one of the things I love about magazines is the joy of discovery. I don’t know what the next page will bring; it could be a cool ad, a great article, or some fluffy promo piece. I love that discovery and surprise. That is one of the most enjoyable elements of the magazine to me and it is just not yet replicated online.

(Plus, I could never leave my computer in the bathroom like I do my magazines!)

Bottom line, I am sticking with print. Not as eco-friendly as I would like, but I have to balance doing good for the environment with doing right by me.

One comment

  1. I totally agree…magazines, for now at least, are more fun in print!

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