I’ve enjoyed reading on my iPad so much that I’ve actually subscribed to a couple of magazines. Back in the day, I enjoyed getting various magazines. At one point or another I’ve had subscriptions to American Cinematographer, Camera and Darkroom, Darkroom Techniques, Tricycle, Road and Track, and even a mysterious subscription to Playboy. I say mysterious because I never signed up for it and it continued for years. Keep in mind, it only started to show up at my MOM’S HOUSE after I moved out. It actually took some doing to cancel it. To this day I have no idea how that happened or why.
Anyway, for most things, magazines can’t compete anymore. The internet is where I go to get all of my info. Free, up to the minute information and news is hard to compete against. Where some magazines do compete is in analysis. I have subscribed to both The Economist and Reason Magazine.
Reason Magazine is a libertarian news and analysis source. They love to skewer folks from both major parties and suggest alternatives that sound… well, very reasonable to me. They have really good contributors and are a pleasure to read. The mag i so cheap, a buck and change for each digital version, that it was a no brainer for me. Curiously, they don’t have their own magazine app, but instead use both Kindle and Barnes and Noble to handle their digital subscriptions. Amazon would let me buy it on the Kindle app for some reason, but the Nook app did. The layout is sparse, with minimal pictures. That’s fine by me, this is a magazine you really do get for the articles…
I’ve wanted to subscribe to the Economist forever. While I certainly don’t always agree with them, the writing is of high quality and is pretty in depth. On top of that, they cover parts of the world I don’t usually hear about like eastern Europe, south Asia, and Australia. The thing that put me off was the price. As a weekly magazine, it got expensive fast. Their app for the iPad is really nice, not super cluttered or busy like a lot of other magazine apps. The problem is that the digital subscription is the same price as the print edition. I understand that there is a cost to having a quality magazine made. Deep down, it just doesn’t seem right that you should pay the same for a virtual object that you do for an actual one. I’m the last person to question supply and demand, they should charge what they can, but their choice is what prevented me from being a subscriber. Well, one day I got an offer from Groupon for essentially half price on an Economist subscription and I jumped at it. Here’s the weird thing, print subscribers get free access to the digital version. So, I was able to spend half the money and get both the digital and print editions. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to simply offer me the digital only version at that price? It was still over 50 bucks for a year but that’s a far cry from over $100. So I’ve got a year, I’m hoping that they’ll come to their senses before the year is up and offer discounted digital subscriptions.
The New Yorker is now offering subscriptions on the iPad for less than the print edition. I’ve never read an issue of that, doubt I will, but I’m glad they’re doing it. Everyone has been waiting for the publishers to do this, it really does make a ton of sense from a consumer’s perspective. The only thing I can imagine causing publishers to have to charge more or the same for digital versions is high fixed costs involving their printing end of things. We’ll see how things shake out in the future. If there are printing costs driving magazine’s prices, I think we’ll see those come down over time as contracts are renegotiated or dropped altogether.