Sunday, July 19, 2009

Leisure reading

There are plenty of stories out there about the problems magazines are having. It's interesting to see the warning signs, even when you are just a reader at home.

To wit:

1. I received a piece of direct mail from Sports Illustrated a couple of weeks ago. The subscription offer usually is something along the lines of 80 cents an issue, depending on how long you renew. The number can go up with a premium. This particular offer was for 39 cents an issue or so, so it was about $20 for a year -- and it included a gym bag. I renewed; I even have the gym bag already.

My subscription had quite a while before it ran out. So if it -- one of the big ones in the industry -- is slashing prices like that, it's easy to wonder what exactly is going on with the company.

2. The Sporting News recently switched from a weekly publication to a biweekly. The editorial content is different too, and quite interesting. But -- it already has taken a pair of issues "off", meaning that readers went four weeks between issues a couple of times.

3. Newsweek switched formats drastically earlier this summer, going to more analysis instead of trying to track down an extra fact or two. The publication has lowered its circulation guarantee drastically. I know the editors are working to get the hang of it, but so far I'm not sure I'd renew it right now. And Newsweek has been coming to my house (or my parents' house) for my entire life.

4. Paste magazine is relatively new, a handful of years. It mostly covers new music, but has a few movie and book reviews. I subscribed for a couple of years, mostly to pick up the free sampler CD that once in a while had some good songs on it, but dropped it a while back. There was something annoying about the way Paste sometimes would have an ad for a CD in one part of the magazine, and then an article on that CD and its band in another part.

I read a little while ago that its editors had to ask its subscribers and supporters for donations to keep the magazine alive. The move raised somewhere in the low six figures, and Paste is still publishing. You wonder how much longer it has, though.

Anyone who works at a newspaper shouldn't throw stones at another struggling literary form. I don't like the trendline for either medium.

1 comment:

Becky said...

I got a notice begging for renewal before I even got my first issue of The Atlantic, and have received many since. It seems they also lent my name to other publications. I probably won't renew.