For the past few years I have been a subscriber and reader of The Economist which calls itself a newspaper even though most people would call it a magazine. I really like the non-U.S. focused viewpoint of The Economist. If I don’t get to it right away I will often read it from back to front. I recommend giving this a try if you have not.
In addition to being a substantial financial commitment, (it costs more than $2.00/issue for the print subscription on an annual basis and there’s even an additional cost to also receive full digital subscription access), any Economist subscriber will tell you it’s a two plus hour time commitment to read on a weekly basis.
Having spent a fair amount of time working within the publishing industry on the circulation side, I did not respond to the regular entreats from The Economist to re-subscribe early. Or what I thought was early. After all, traditional magazine subscription practices had renewal offers being sent after six months of receiving the subscription, sometimes less.
So when I noticed that my “last issue” was fast approaching I continued to ignore it figuring that even after the date I would still receive the magazine along with letters from the Economist noting that “perhaps I have forgotten”. I expected that my value as a controlled subscriber would keep it coming and eventually I’d get around to re-subscribing. What happened next was surprising.
The Economist cut me off. And really, they were right in doing so. It’s just another reason I like the magazine er, newspaper so much. I did have a little trouble re-subscribing on the website. After a few attempts I was confident it was not my ‘operator error’ and called and had no trouble re-initiating my subscription with the nice chap on the phone – British accent and all (nice touch).
It still bothers me that as a print subscriber I do not receive automatic digital access, (seems unusual to me but then that’s also in The Economist’s DNA). Since there others in my family that like to read articles now and again, it’s one of the only print-only subscriptions I receive, (I still get Sports Illustrated in print mostly due to habit and an overall nostalgic feeling). I also find that long form articles are nice to read in printed form, (yes I still read printed books regularly along with those on my Amazon Kindle App).
Publishing as we all know has taken a series of blows since the dawning of the internet era in the 1990’s. The shakeout is far from over. The days of mass audience for new publications appear to be over. Still, publishers like The Atlantic and The Economist seem to have adapted better than most and are better positioned for their continued relevance and success. Their circulations may not be enormous, but their readers are loyal and most important, are willing to pay. And keep paying.
Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas and my best wishes for health and happiness in 2016 and beyond!