The magazine business is in almost as much trouble as the newspaper business. The problem: people are increasingly going online for their information. So magazines must adapt – or face extinction. Guns Magazine has gone several steps further than most magazines; they’ve put their entire issue online, in digital format. Truth to tell, I’m interested in this transmogrification for my own personal bitter and twisted reasons. Back when I was partying like it was 1999 (because it was), I came up with an idea to put magazines online. Page turns, interactive clicks, animation, tracking – the works. Sadly, I was 10 years before my time. And I didn’t have the money to get software patents on my development work. So . . . get off my lawn! Anyway, here’s the really interesting bit . . .
Guns Magazine is sold by subscription and on newsstands. It costs real money – not some Lindendollars from SecondLife. The digital edition is free. Sound crazy? Nope.
The magazine business model is based on advertiser dollars. If you purchase a subscription, you’re basically paying for shipping. Your subscription dollars don’t come close to paying the freight on magazine writing, editing and printing. Ads do.
But if you could cut out the expenses of printing, binding, and shipping the magazines around the country, you could turn a profit. Digital magazines cost virtually nothing to distribute. Made from the wholesome goodness of fine Corinthian, hand-tooled, 100% recycled electrons, the costs of distribution are absurdly cheap. The ads and stories all get distributed, instantaneously, anywhere in the world.
So here’s my question. If given the chance to ditch paper and ink for screens and electrons, would you do it? If you could read a magazine for free, online instead of paying for the privilege of paper, would you?
Let’s try this experiment. Go to www.gunsmagazine.com and click on the link to sign up for a Free digital subscription. Take it for a spin, and see what you think. Then report back here on your opinions on the digital version. Inquiring minds want to know.