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December 23, 2009

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msbpodcast

Okay, I really think you should get a podcast. (That would have been kick-ass done on a piano a la Tom Lehrer. :-)

Jim Kosmicki

I don't know if it's been mentioned before, since I read this on RSS and don't see the comments. But through my work at a community college, I get offers for "free" magazines (not as many as the tech bubble, but still some). Freebizmag sends me regular emails asking me to "apply" for my free subscriptions. I've noticed a distinct correlation between the magazines that try to give me a subscription and your announcements of death - usually about a year's difference.

Paul Riddell

Jim, that's because at that point, the magazines are trying to convince their advertisers that someone is still reading, and they give out freebies in the hopes of goosing circulation. As you've noticed, it doesn't help.

Elizabeth

Paul, I've also noticed that. I think Freebizmag promoted "Metropolitan Home" more aggressively than I've seen with other non-trade consumer magazines, and that didn't even last the year of my subscription.

But used sparingly, free subscriptions can give circulation a shot in the arm, and it makes financial sense. On average, publishers spend $15 in promotion for every subscription they get -- even though many popular magazines have subscription prices of less than $15, never mind mailing costs. Which is why very few consumer magazines aren't advertiser-funded. Except for this idea of cover prices tied to wantedness, publishers might as well give subscriptions away.

junebee

We've been offered free subscriptions to cash in unused frequent flier miles on airlines we rarely travel on. Even with the "free" subscription we're hard-pressed to find magazines of interest to us. Most of them are useless and can be read in less than 30 minutes (not counting advertisements), which is a shame because I really do like magazines (being that they are low-tech, and portable and all that).

Jermo

No doubt about it: Free subs = death watch

I expect BusinessWeek, Newsweek to die soon (you know, web only).

Paul Riddell

Oh, I don't disagree, Elizabeth, but then you have the issue of whether you can convince people to pay for a subscription when they've gotten used to it for free. That was an issue with a lot of magazines back in the Publisher's Clearinghouse days, where the publishers offered extremely seductive deals to snag new readers. Problem was, why pay $15 to $25 to renew a subscription when you can just wait a year for the next PCH offer and get it for $8?

(Said stunt also did wonders with killing magazines, as the publications figured that they didn't need to pay for promotion so long as they were playing the Publisher's Clearinghouse game. That's what killed the much-missed "Twilight Zone" back in 1989. And then you have the small-press promotional catalog scams, like the one that ran inside the magazine "The Nose" fifteen years ago. Not only was the guy running the catalog and the magazine double-dipping to pay other bills, thereby screwing customers out of everything, but with the magazine and the catalog being separate entities, it was nearly impossible to convince advertisers in the catalog that they needed to buy ads in the magazine, too.)

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