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!