404: Magazines

A Thousand Things to Talk About
404: Magazines

What magazine(s) do you or would you subscribe to?

Show notes and links:

Full episode script

I’ll admit it – I’m old-school. At least when it comes to my magazines. I have just about every size and type of device you can imagine that I could read a magazine on, but I still get excited when my magazine subscriptions of Wired and Cooks Illustrated show up in the mail and I get to curl up in my reading corner with the physical prints to read.

Some would call this a quirk. Others might call it completely understandable. Statistics… well, they are always the best part, aren’t they? A small survey of just under 1,100 people done this year by the Freeport Press found that only 25.8 percent of respondents hadn’t read any print magazine in the last month, while about 59 percent of respondents hadn’t read any digital magazines in the last month.

A 2015 Pew Research Center study took a much closer look at circulation of magazines, specifically a group of 15 roughly news-related magazines, and found that, quote:

When it comes to overall circulation – the combination of single copy sales and subscriptions – the 15 news magazines saw a relatively small decline of 1%. The Nation’s subscription decline left it down 18% overall, while Wired was the big winner. The strong subscription gains helped overcome the single copy sales losses and increase its overall circulation by 6% in 2014, the highest in the group.

And what people are actually paying to read those magazines is a whole different discussion. While cover prices vary widely from a few dollars to $12 or more, a 2011 AdAge article citing additional sources said that, quote:

Magazines’ average subscription cost slipped to $1.65 per copy in the 12 months ended last June, down from $1.69 in the prior 12 months and a high of $1.79 in the 12 months ending in the summer of 2006.

This was, mainly, because magazines would often drop subscription prices in an effort to increase circulation, to be able to charge more for advertising. But as advertising revenue dropped and more readers moved to the web, magazines found themselves squeezed from both directions, much like many other publishers at that time.

But – all of those statistics aside, do they really tell us much about someone? No, but then again, the magazine subscriptions they read just might. It’s a question that was once, before an infamous 2008 interview, was considered a softball. But after Katie Couric asked then-VP-hopeful Sarah Palin what newspapers or magazines she read and didn’t get an answer, it is a question that gained a new bit of context.

And in 2015, Palin did say in an interview that it was a fair question, despite her inability to answer it on the spot.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.