Even though I love to get snail mail, last week I received two “last issue” warnings for a couple of magazines I subscribe to. I ignored their request to re-up my subscription, even though one of them was a trade magazine that I got for free.
I used to devour my magazines days after they came in the mail, but now blogs, websites, and podcasts are my main go-tos. As I embrace new channels for absorbing information, I find myself suffering from information overload. As a result I am cutting down on the blogs I read, the podcasts I listen to, and the magazines I read.
Magazines are the least convenient form of media. From the moment you receive it the information is already stale and it is a hassle to tote around. Unless I’m on a plane at take-off, it’s easier for me to whip out my Blackberry and catch up on my blogs. Magazines don’t travel as easily as my Blackberry, nor is it easier to multitask with, like a podcast. Printed media demands your absolute attention.
My argument for magazines also goes hand in hand with newspapers, people find it easier to read the news online than to read a newspaper that was created the night before.
While people already argue about the future of newspapers, I wonder how the magazine industry is going to fare in comparison. Will it die out like newspapers or does it stand a chance to survive? Recently people had said that the iPad will help save printed media, allowing for long-form print to get back into the digital realm.
The one thing magazines and papers still have an edge on is content. While newspapers have struggled with making revenue while giving their best stuff away for free online, most magazines have still survived by refusing to post their latest works up as fast as papers. You still need to pick-up the latest issue to read the latest articles.
So if magazines do have a little bit of an edge compared to newspapers- what’s the difference between the two in how they approached online media? Newspapers tried to charge for access but the glut of outlets that were giving their stuff away for free drove the entire industry to do the same. Magazines however managed to avoid that to an extent, while few online competitors existed to create a free content frenzy.
So maybe it was the way both established their online approaches that made the difference, but does that mean newspapers can’t make a comeback? The New York Times is about to see if they can change midstream, returning back to a fee based system.
So will it work for the Times? Is the New York Times brand carry with it loyal fans that they are willing to pay to read it?
I wouldn’t know. I don’t read the Times, I go on Google News instead.