Wired print plus tablet offer

The stupidity of our current media age (print-digital edition)

By Steve Outing

I just renewed my subscription to Wired magazine. $12 for another year of the print edition, plus I get the tablet edition for free to read an enhanced edition on my iPad. What a deal!

Alas, I don’t want the print edition! I’d prefer to receive only the iPad edition and reduce my carbon footprint a bit by causing one less copy of the magazine to be printed, shipped around by trucks, and so on. Also, I prefer reading on my iPad over print magazines, the latter which tend to get lost in piles of paper and books around the house. But for the $12-a-year renewal offer, I have to get the print edition.

Sure, I could opt for paying for just the digital-tablet edition with no print delivery, but that would cost me $19.99 a year. (That also happens to be the price advertised for new subscribers on the Wired website for print edition and tablet subscription. The site doesn’t offer tablet-only for that price, as far as I can tell; you can pay $19.99 a year and avoid the print edition by purchasing a digital edition via the iPad app.)

If I was truly committed to avoiding the extra resources consumed and pollution created by taking the print edition, I could of course just pay the extra $8 a year. It’s not much, right? I considered that, but I’m on a meager university salary and my wife is a public-school teacher, and in this economy we’ve had to watch expenses and cut back on some things (bye-bye, exorbitant cable-TV bill!), so if I have a chance to save money, I do. (I’ll donate my printed Wired magazines to my wife’s school library.)

Besides, what logic is there to charge subscribers more for getting less (i.e., digital-only subscription), and charging more for subscribers who want to do the right thing environmentally? It’s stupid.

Well, it’s not stupid from the publisher’s standpoint, of course. Wired and its parent company want me and others to continue to take the print edition, whether we want it or not, because those colorful print ads that fill up the magazine bring in lots of money. It won’t do to encourage or support subscribers giving up print in favor of digital only, because the print ads would then bring in less money.

I get that. But it pisses me off that in this media transition that we find ourselves in, print publishers resort to discouraging the digital transition and encouraging subscribers to continue receiving a product that consumes physical resources (trees) and pollutes the environment (trucks and delivery).

It’s not just Wired. Making the cheapest option for newspaper and magazine subscriptions be print + digital is a current major trend in media business models.

In another few years, perhaps we’ll be past such stupidity (I mean in an environmental sense, not a business one). For now, all I or any magazine or newspaper subscriber who wants a publisher’s product and are caught in such a situation can do is gripe, or be altruistic and pay more.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

12 Responses to "The stupidity of our current media age (print-digital edition)"

  1. Steve
    Steve 6 years ago .Reply

    With that, “Wired” is just acting clueless and “Tired”. Just give the postal mailing address as a local High School (library). You aren’t bothered, get the lower price, and the hardcopy isn’t wasted.

  2. Joanna Aislinn
    Joanna Aislinn 6 years ago .Reply

    That’s crazy. I definitely see your point and it makes a LOT of sense–you should have a better choice. Being a devil’s advocate, though, I get the advertising and how many people would have to redefine the way they garner an income should hard copies of everything no longer be available. Not sure all of them would fine jobs (as we know them anyway). Very interesting post.

  3. JIm Sweeney
    JIm Sweeney 6 years ago .Reply

    Or maybe, just maybe, everyone can not afford the iPad that you somehow managed on your meager income. Why is it so easy to blame the big, bad traditional media for everything evil in the world? How about all the poor third world children suffering from the pollutants created in the manufacture of your iPad that you somehow afforded on your meager salary? And how about the slightest possibility that some people still like to touch and feel and read a magazine? Just deal with it.

  4. Toma
    Toma 6 years ago .Reply

    Don’t forget the countless new subscriptions offers they’re hoping will fall out as you read your print edition on the bus/train/airplane and land in the hands of another potential customer.

  5. Bill Garber
    Bill Garber 6 years ago .Reply


    You actually have figure out how to use … and like … the Wired iPad edition?

    I deleted it the first time I tried it … bloat beyond bloat … almost impossible to find my way around on the screen … as close to the classic definition of a horrible UI I’ve seen.

    Then, the print edition is a bit of a scavenger hunt itself … looks like they put all their digital resources to work to take that theme to the max on the iPad.

    It feels like Chris Anderson is trying to see how far out onto the Long Tail the magazine can get pushed before Conde Nast unplugs the financial tether.

    I’m all for the experience of things … just not the experience of wired Wired. I still subscribe … to the paper edition … I think it is like coffee … I once had a great cup … been trying to find it again for some years now …

  6. Jeff Hartley
    Jeff Hartley 6 years ago .Reply

    You as a consumer have a choice and you chose. Businesses have a right to charge what they believe customers will pay. Print isn’t done just yet.

  7. […] Steve Outing is mystified that Wired will send him a print subscription for less than they’re charging for iPa…. For a quick primer on why price discrimination is so profitable: If I was truly committed to […]

  8. Danny Bloom
    Danny Bloom 6 years ago .Reply

    I have been saying for yaers and nobody will listen to me or report this news that reading on paper is superior brain wise in terms of brain chemistry for three vital things: info processing, info retention and info analysis….and future MRI and PET scan studies will show that when we read on paper different parts of the brain light up for these three items…..and are vastly superior to the parts that light up for reading on screens, which i call “screening” since it is not really reading per se. Anne Mangen and Maryanne Wolf among others are studying this. Why don’t you inteview them someday. My hunch will be proven right. Why do you ignore my research, Julie? Screens are for quick takes, and i love em….but paper is forever…….wake up! interview me!

  9. Roger Plothow
    Roger Plothow 6 years ago .Reply

    For the record, you can purchase an online-only subscription to the Post Register for $6 a month (compared to $12 a month for the print edition). Problem — if everyone converted to the online edition at that price, we’d be out of business. Why? NO ONE READS ONLINE ADS and advertisers know it. Online advertising works on a global basis, but provides only a modest revenue supplement for local paper.

    By the way, in the seven years we’ve offered the online-only option, we’d have 520 people take us up on it. There were 150 the first year, 450 the second year, and, since the third year we’ve been right at 500 or so.

  10. Chris
    Chris 5 years ago .Reply

    Magazines are in a transition mode from print to digital. In 10 years print magazines will be a memory… Like film cameras. People do and will read ads on their tablets. They are not the same as online banner ads. Whether the advertisers will pay close to the same price as print ads remains to be seen.

  11. dan bloom
    dan bloom 5 years ago .Reply

    Chris, yes, magazines will be mostly in digital form sooner or later but it won’t be a good thing, just a convenient and profitable thing because as I have been saying for years and nobody will listen to me: reading on paper is superior brain wise in terms of brain chemistry for three vital things: info processing, info retention and info analysis….and future MRI and PET scan studies by PHDs will show that when we read on paper different and superior parts of the brain light up for these three items……Screens are for quick takes, and i love em…but paper is superior in terms of brain chemisty and ”the reading brain”

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