Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why I Gave Up on (Most) Print Magazines

I have a confession.  I don’t buy print magazines.  Sure, this only started a few days ago and excludes specialty magazines and compelling issues like Michelle Obama’s first Vogue cover in March 2009 or Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s April 2014 Vogue cover, but I swear my print days are (mostly) over.

Image via The New Yorker

Magazines have always played a special role in my life, marking pivotal moments be it devouring Girl’s Life before bed on a school night, sneaking my first issue of Cosmopolitan, deemed too racy for a middle schooler, or debating when it was appropriate to upgrade from Teen Vogue to full-fledged Vogue, and not to mention my first office job was an editorial intern at a fashion magazine in New York.

Yet our relationship has always been fleeting with space cock blocking a more permanent marriage.  My first magazine purge occurred in middle school.  After collecting years’ worth of issues from Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl and Girl’s Life, my bookshelves were full.  I tried cramming them together, stacking them on top of one another, but ultimately they had to go.  Laying tens of magazines out to rot in the recycling bin, I felt a sense of loss, a loss that has recurred at the end of every school year since boarding school. In the race to pack up one’s room, the decision between storage facility and dumpster is swift and unforgiving.  I always try to find an alternate home for my magazines, sending dorm-wide emails to girls who may appreciate reading one on a long flight home.  But nevertheless, the abandonment feels much the same.

By now, I’m sure you probably think I’m crazed, imbuing a disproportionate amount of feeling to what are ultimately sheets of paper.  But to me, it was more.  Recently cleaning out my room, I rediscovered collages I made during my childhood.  Nautical is in! the title would read with magazine cutouts of striped shirts, Sperry’s and advertisements from Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren.  It was fate that I would eventually be Anna Wintour.  If my middle school peers couldn’t see it, I certainly could –and so would the editors at the likes of Vogue and Elle in New York City.

But what even Anna recognizes is that our relationship with print has changed.  In fact, despite being a late adopter to the digital platform, Vogue now sits among the elite, offering unique features to digital subscribers and many sophisticated in-app features via tablet.  Thankfully, Next Issue has come in and saved my life.  It’s an app that offers unlimited access to over 140 magazines at the touch of your finger –back issues included.  I’m talking The New Yorker, Elle, Vogue, Bloomberg Businessweek, New York Magazine, GQ, you name it.  And for $15 a month, it’s truly hard to beat.

But despite its incredible offerings, it lacks just one thing: specialty magazines, which just so happen to be some of my favorites.  Think Industrie, 032c and CR Fashion Book, typically published biannually and catering to a niche market: those willing to pay $20 an issue to read about the culture of the fashion industry itself, contemporary culture and get a glimpse into the brain of Carine Roitfeld, respectively.  Twenty dollars for one issue? Call me crazy, but five years after the debut of Industrie, I still have the first issue sitting atop my nightstand.

Now you tell me.  Could you ever give up the glossies? Why not give it shot and try a 60-day free trial of Next Issue, then get back to me. 
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