I like magazines though I rarely read them... I just don't have the time except when I travel, and then it's a big hassle to cart a stack of them around. About the only regular exceptions I make are for Cycle World and Motorcyclist. The smart solution would be electronic delivery of magazine subscriptions so I could download them every month and save them up for when I have a trip and need something to read.
And now a pretty good solution has arrived. Over at Zinio, you can download a free reader, sample some titles, and subscribe to a small assortment of magazines for monthly delivery over the internet. In theory, it sounds ideal. In practice, there are some problems...
- The reader is classy, intuitive, and nicely done. For reading materials, I couldn't be happier. Problem is, it doesn't really organize you magazine collection. There's no "browser" to thumb through the magazines you've received... no "rack" to organize your collection... no way to mark a title as read... no way to search through back issues... it's a very passive system that could be vastly improved. This may not be a big deal if you don't subscribe to very many titles and toss them once you've read them, but the benefits of electronic archiving is lost.
- There's not a lot of titles to choose from. MOST of my favorites are not available (yet). No men's magazines... Esquire, Men's Health, FHM, Maxim, Maxim Stuff, Playboy, etc. No motorcycle magazines... Motorcyclist, Cycle World, Street Bike, etc. Even high-profile entertainment magazines like Entertainment Weekly, People, Us, etc. are missing. Hopefully more titles will be added very soon.
- It's ridiculous that the cost of a digital subscription is the same as the magazine subscription. I mean, come on! No paper, no postage, NO SAVINGS?!? If MacWorld costs $19.95 for a paper subscription, then the digital subscription should be more like $12.95 or even $14.95. What is the justification for the cost?
- A small selection of international magazines are available, BUT YOU DON'T PAY DOMESTIC RATES?!? This is STUPID! One of my favorite entertainment magazines is Empire... but I don't subscribe because it's hugely expensive to have it shipped over from the UK. In theory, a digital subscription would be the same price no matter where in the world you are because postage is not an issue. But that's not the case... the UK edition of MacWorld is $69.95... this makes no sense.
- The images are at a standard screen resolution of 72dpi... I wish there was an option to download a version of the magazines at a more respectable 120-150dpi for those times you want to print something out.
While I am excited at the idea of digital magazine subscriptions, we're not quite there yet. Even so, I recommend downloading the reader and grabbing a few free sample magazines to give it a try.