I’m a pretty loud advocate of e-books, as my twitter friends know. I often find myself advocating for e-books as a platform. But even I hadn’t realized out whole-heartedly I’d embraced digital content until last weekend.
Angela and I had taken a few days of to tackle The Closet… our office has a closet running the full width of one wall (the office is intended to be the master bedroom in this apartment) and it was over-flowing with junk. So we dragged it all out and I had 5 (!) milk-crates full of old magazines. I set them aside to go through later.
And so last weekend I found myself surrounded by stacks of old magazines: everything from issues of Realms of Fantasy from the early 90s, to Cardplayer Magazine from back when I played online … err, the spammers will invade if I say it, but y’know that gambling game that’s played online, to Linux Journals, MIT Technology Reviews from 2000-2003, Wired, Armchair General… just tons and tons of magazines.
A lot of them went right into the dumpster. Reading about the state of the art of Linux from 2003 just isn’t a good use of time, and I no longer play cards seriously enough to read a magazine about it.
But the Technology Reviews and the Wireds had some interesting content; interviews with current tech giants who were up-and-comers back then, or ‘prediction’ pieces that were so far off the mark as to be kind of charming. I knew I’d never get through them by ‘flipping through’ so I decided to check out each issue’s Table of Contents and see if there was anything worth reading.
At first this was kind of fun, but I quickly found it incredibly frustrating. Paper magazines, it turns out, SUCK. First you have to *find* the table of contents which in Wired, particularly, can be 10 pages or more in. Then you find an article you want to read and it’s on page 152. While you try to find page 152 7-8 ‘blow-in’ subscription cards land in your lap. The magazine insists in flopping open to various advertisements printed on thicker paper than the rest of the mag. Other times you find yourself flipping through 10-15 pages of “Advertising Section” or other un-numbered pages. When you finally do find page 152, your read it and page 153 & 154 and then the article is continued on page 185 and you have to start your search all over again.
Bah! I got more and more particular in what I felt was worth reading until most of the issues I was just chucking in the bin. My beloved Realms of Fantasy excepted… those are just so retro and awesome I had to keep them.
What I found curious about the whole episode is that if I’d gone through this process 8 months ago I wouldn’t have thought twice about the format of paper magazines. But since April I’ve been doing 99% of my ‘magazine’ reading on the iPad. In some cases I buy digital issues of a mag (Wired, New Yorker) and in other cases I just read the articles on a website. And now that I have a great edition of the New York Times on the iPad, I’ll go back to reading the Sunday paper and magazine section (digitally).
I don’t have many print magazine subscriptions left at this point, and I don’t expect I’ll ever subscribe to another one. I knew I’d embraced e-books, but until now I hadn’t realized how strongly I’d embraced e-magazines. I mean, I still have all my stacks and shelves and boxes of print books…I’m not going to toss those. But print magazines…they’ve become a relic of another age, in my eyes, and fit only for recycling.