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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 theĀ privilegeĀ of paper, would you?

Let’s try this experiment. Go to 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.

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  1. FMG's websites and digital editions are great. As a reader and an advertiser, I use both. As a reader/subscriber, I get an e-mail each month that tells me when a digital edition is ready. I pore through the pages for new products, good articles and competitors' ads. As an advertiser working at ArmaLite, I can sponsor the e-mail that alerts me to the digital edition. I can also sponsor the "news ticker" that rolls at the bottom of the screen while you read the digital edition. (In fact, there's an ArmaLite news ticker at the bottom of August's digital edition.) Inside the digital edition are replicas of the ads that will soon be seen in the paper version of the magazine. Click on any of these ads or tickers and you're linked to ArmaLite's website. Of course there are also advertising opportunities on the regular websites. ALL of these "recycled electrons" do a good job of driving visitors to ArmaLite's web site. And, I can check on that delivery each and every day with a simple computer program. Yes, these digital editions are a big step foward. Of course, they will never replace the old magazines you can reach for when you're idling on the warm sands of a sunny beach.

  2. Interesting site, and noticed the posting from friend and business associate Arthur Steadman of ArmaLite.

    I'm the publisher of FMG's consumer magazines (GUNS, American Handgunner, American COP and our Special Editions) and the editor of American Handgunner. I appreciate your positive comments about our on-line digital editions, and wanted to make sure you know we have no intention to discontinue our printed versions. Our many subscribers and newsstand buyers have applauded our digital editions and tell us regularly how much they appreciate being able to access archived issues and to use the "hot links" in the ads. They also like the video from some companies, and the fact if they are traveling, they can still get their favorite gunzines! Our advertisers have noticed the click-through rate from their ads in the digital edition, and appreciate that extra-exposure.

    Thanks for the civilized and informed content of your site here. I welcome any comments to my e-mail at [email protected]

    Roy Huntington

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