Magazines…newspapers…oh, boy.

I don’t get to the mail every day at our house, and I just had a chance to look through our mail pile.  What really struck me was the number of magazines in the pile…all from “professional organizations (e.g. MENC, AFT, Education Minnesota).”

I’ve decided something: technology and culture have developed  enough to eliminate the publication of these magazines as printed documents.  You do need a membership to receive these publications, but to be honest, I’m not sure that there’s a striking demand for these publications outside of the members in the first place.  It’s time to put these on the web for download (forget any form of distribution) in a PDF format that works well with 8.5×11 paper.  Then everyone can read the magazine, regardless of device.  And if they need to print it, they can print it.

I just think of all the paper and mailing costs that are wasted with these magazines.  What a waste.

The same process is occurring with newspapers, who are losing subscriptions at an incredible rate.  We do get the paper four days a week in our house, but we only read Sunday’s paper (it was a 2 year deal for $2).  We seek our news on the web and through iOS apps.  We’d probably be willing to pay for the news, if it wasn’t wasting the paper.  I still don’t know a good alternative for ads…there is something great about ads that are not reproduced in flash viewers offered by the stores…partially because you get all the ads at one time.  A good app would be an iOS app, for the iPad in particular, that would feature all of the *printed* (the hope is that the printing could stop in the future) ads from your area, like your Sunday paper, or the Thanksgiving Black Friday ads.

I’d also like to see all other magazines go digital, away from proprietary apps like Zinio.  I’ve used Zinio…I don’t like it.  I’d like to get magazines in PDF format, so I could read them in the viewer of my choice.  I understand, that for paid subscriptions, that’s a dangerous proposition.  But my thought is that I’m paying for the magazine, so I should get to store/view it the way that I want to store/view it.  I even contacted two of my favorite magazines from the past (neither of which I am a current subscriber to), Z-Track and Motorcycle Consumer News, to inquire about the possibility of a digital subscription at full price…neither was interested.  You can buy back issues of MCN for $7.00 in PDF format…which is about twice the “cover price” of the magazine.  Sigh.

We’re a culture ready to move away from print but somehow still locked into the industry.

As a side note, I think there will always be printing of some sort for connoisseurs of print, just as I believe there will always be petroleum for “classic” cars in the future, when we’ve all long moved on to battery-powered or alternative fuel vehicles.  It will just cost more, but for the people that love it, they’ll be willing to pay for it.

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