The paper magazine is so ubiquitous. It is in the doctor’s and dentist’s office. Stacks of them are scattered on the tables at the barber, at the vehicle service center and the bank.
It is a great idea: you get to thumb through them as you wait for your turn. There is usually such a variety, from Time to Guns & Ammo to Better Homes and Gardens, not to mention Reader’s Digest and People. It is a variety that you don’t get at home.
I typically have subscriptions to more than 8 magazines at a time. Most of them are business-related, like Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Inc. Others are for golf, gardening, cooking and my favorite, Men’s Health. They are scattered around my office and the house, ready for a quick read when I have a few minutes.
But I have found that the business magazines no longer provide much value. Even worse, they have become a chore to read. I find that the articles now blend with the ads, making it difficult to discern the difference between them. Perhaps they are simply trying to get me to pay more attention to the ads, since that is how they make the money to print the magazine. But whatever the reason, I don’t like it.
Lately, I find that I have subscribed to either the daily email, RSS feed or follow the magazine on Twitter and that I get all that I need from those avenues. If an article interests me, I click through and read it online. I can manage the ads on a web page easier than I can in a printed magazine.
So, as of this month, I will no longer renew my business magazine subscriptions. I just don’t find them valuable enough to warrant the weight of getting them in the mail, extracting the content from the ads, then hauling them to the curb to be recycled. I am being both “effective” and “green” at the same time!
What happens when the magazine publishers discover this trend and want to charge for online access? Good question. I am not sure how I will respond. As we have seen with The New York Times and their “paywall” attempts, I am sure that many other paper-based publications will be going down that road.
For me, it will be a matter of the content: if they offer content that helps me learn or gives me information that I cannot glean from other resources, then I will consider paying a small amount. It won’t be the amounts that the Wall Street Journal or the Times are charging, but I would consider a small annual payment if the content is worth it.
There is also the Kindle – one of my favorite gadgets. I read all of my books on it, so it may be the place where a publisher may try to get their content in my hands. The computer offers some advantages: full keyboard, color and integration with all of my favorite places like my blog, Evernote and Dropbox. It will be interesting to see this market mature in the next 2-3 years, especially Seth Godin’s The Domino Project, which I am watching carefully to see how he will change the face of all publishing.
What do you think? Are you following these same trends?