Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Are We Ready with e-Magazine?

Today Apple's Steve Jobs announced the subscription service for magazine subscription is now supported.  The similar service has been available in Amazon for its Kindle for sometime.  But regardless the availability, Dol we really want to read magazines on an electronic gadget?

Here's my experience using different e-readers, both on PC, iPhone, iPad and Kindle.  First of all, reading magazines on iPad has the most interesting experience because its bigger footprint than iPhone and interactivity thru its touch screen.  For the easiness to our eyes, Kindle prevails, but with no color as its main downside.  Reading on PC's monitor is also a good experience, except it's too bulky to carry notebook during travel, let alone reading on desktop.

Another aspect we need to pay attention is the cost of subscription (and yes, this is really a turnoff, at least for me).  For example, I subscribe to Reader's Digest for about $2 a year, while on Amazon they charge about $2 per edition (one magazine a year, so total subscription is about $20).  A paper TIME magazine subscription, through Ad subsidy, only charge me about $15/year.  Amazon charges about $2 per magazine.  I bet Apple will charge about the same.  It's so non-sense and doesn't make sense! Both Apple, Amazon and the publishers want to rip us off and trick us to pay so much for less!  Publishing an e-Magazine costs almost nothing (99.9% of the cost is from the operational costs including the editors/writers, unlike paper-based magazines where they have to print it and distribute it).

Another issue with e-Magazine is the magazines we already one are unsharable, unless they are DRM-free.  With paper magazine, we can lend the magazine to friends and let them read free-of-charge and as long as we let them borrow it.  Some e-book readers have this borrow-a-book feature, but it is still limited and not convenience to use.  Also, format compatibility is a big issue right now, at least between Amazon's AZW and others' EPUB (iBook uses EPUB as well as Nook and other majority of e-readers). If we buy a magazine from Amazon, it cannot be read on iPad, unless we install Kindle-for-iPad/iPhone application for it.

The only benefit of subscribing to e-Magazine right now is that it reduces clutters of magazines.  A Kindle can store thousands of magazines (depends on the content.  If the magazine has alot of pictures, the size will be bigger), iPad can even store much more.

So, the bottom line is that we're (or at least me) not ready to migrate to read e-magazine yet.  Maybe some people can take some advantages of reading an e-magazine, but for most people it is not cost-effective yet.  Once it's become so ubiquitous and ads are everywhere in the e-magazines to offset the cost, perhaps it's the time we shall migrate to this environment-friendly magazine.  Oh, don't forget also by reading paper e-magazine, we support many people's live too, from workers at printing facilities, paper companies, newstand guys to truck drivers!

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