*This is a modified version of an email I will be sending to magazines as my subscriptions expire.
I recently received a notice that my subscription to a certain magazine was about to expire. This notice prompted me to re-evaluate my reading habits, particularly with periodicals.
My “Unread” pile:
Am I reading less? No, I’m actually reading at my usual pace. What’s changed is the medium I use:
The advantages of digital text are significant:
- Instant delivery online.
- Storage– 1 issue of Electric Literature = 1/2 a megabyte, while Project Gutenberg’s plaintext Moby Dick weighs in at 1 megabyte. Kindle can store up to 4 gigabytes, the iPad up to 64GB.
- Access– files can be stored and retrieved from hard drive or online.
- Accessibility– text can be enlarged or even read aloud.
- Cost– paper copy of Virginia Quarterly Review = $15, digital copy = $4.
- Lower environmental impact (debatable)– see Slate‘s article.
- No need to haul heavy loads to the recycling bin.
- No risk of Librarian’s Lung.
For these reasons, I’ve decided not to renew my subscription to any print magazine. Online implementations won’t suffice, either– they run counter to notions of ownership and, since most employ Flash, generally suck. Instead, I’ll request that publishers provide subscribers an option to download digital copies in lieu of print; it seems a logical progression and publications like Electric Literature, GUD, and Porchlight have already proven that digital magazines can be beautiful as well as functional. When such an option is made available, I will happily resubscribe.