The Plight Of The Subscription Model aka Act 3, the long delayed conclusion to With A Passion On Print Media

Yes, there are two copies and both are fucked for the same reason.

So why do print magazines need to pour their journalistic creations onto the internet?

Because there are so many flaws in the production and distribution of analog journalism that they really ought to give digital a go. This is one of my longstanding and heretofore unblogged about pet peeves: magazine subscribers take it in the ear when it comes to quality service. Sure, the subscriber saves an unbelievable % off the cover price, but if you don’t subscribe or buy, (instead reading online if said magazine offers their content for free, ala The Fader’s free PDFs) the method that former subscribers tend to lean towards, you save 100% off the cover price.

Here’s an exact quote from the customer support from The Atlantic Monthly, for some context, they release their issues around the end of the 2nd to last week of the month prior to the one named on the cover of said issue:

Please allow until March 16, 2009 for delivery of your March 2009 issue.

So that means you are forced to give them three and a half weeks after the newsstand release until that issue can be considered late. Thanks to this fact, I canceled my trial subscription with The Atlantic.

In previous ages this may not have been an issue, but now we are in the aughts, aka the On Demand decade, where time + knowledge = money in a more off balance ratio than it’s ever been.

The Atlantic puts their articles online when their issues hit the newsstand, so there’s no point in subscribing aside from the fact that the magazine’s articles look better on the printed page than they do on my screen. Is this because of some culturally placed value inherent in something that was printed on paper with ink? Probably, but I also just find it easier to read on paper. That’s how I was educated for the majority of that section of my life, so that’s how my brain is wired.

Why does it take so long for The Atlantic to get their content to me? Postage costs have risen tremendously over the years, something anyone on The Nation of McSweeney’s e-mail lists know well already, so to cut costs, magazines have to ship at lower rates, is one of the major reasons.

But the Atlantic isn’t the only publication with suffering with getting their pulpy goodness into my hands or mailbox.

The Fader magazine at the jump of this post has a two-fer when it comes to demonstrating the problems of the subscription method, which is reccomended by only a few more doctors than the withdrawl method is.

1) The USPS loves to fray the edges of your mail. you know you’ve seen this before. also, this may happen because your landlord installed a half assed mail flap or tiny ass mailboxes.

For more evidence, see the below image, or imagine the torn up netflix envelopes I take out of my tiny ass mailbox, because I don’t have my mail come to my home anymore, it all comes to me at work.


2) The databases of these publishers can get fucked right quickly resulting in wasteful doubled-up subscriptions, as seen in the pic of the Fader issues, from when I used to have a subscript (hey they gave me free tix for Bonnaroo).

So with the risks of unbelievable wait times, damaged goods, and wasteful methods in convervationalistic (well, you’re subscribing to print already, so you’re not clean at all on this) times, it’s easy to see why people don’t want to be subscribers anymore.

So with subscriber numbers dipping despite the quality inherent in the product, the publishers decided to try and publish online. Also, some mags, the New Yorker, for example, lets their staff writers blog exclusive-to-the-net content, and Hendrik Hertzberg and Sasha Frere-Jones make great use of this function of their employer’s network of info/wit distribution.


One Reply to “The Plight Of The Subscription Model aka Act 3, the long delayed conclusion to With A Passion On Print Media”

  1. I like your blog. Its smart and thoughtful.

    Did you see the Kevin Kelly speech on the future of the internet.

    It put the newspaper/music industry/ cloud computing in perspective
    for me.

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