John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk

Magazine subscriptions

Back in 1995, I subscribed to 2 computer magazines: Computer Shopper and PC Pro. These magazines have cover disks: originally floppies, later replaced by CDs, then DVDs. In my case, I had the CD version of both magazines for a while, then I paid a bit extra to go for the DVD version of PC Pro. More recently, Computer Shopper stopped including CDs; they replaced this with a "virtual disc" option, where you can download the contents of the CD from their website.

It's been a while since I even looked at any of these disks; I have a huge pile of the things, but I never install any of the software. However, I'm still paying extra to get them: since April 2007, I've been paying £9.99 every 3 months for PC Pro (£39.96/year) vs £15.99 every 6 months for Computer Shopper (£31.98/year). So, I decided to change my PC Pro subscription, and go for the cheaper option (CD/virtual).

I phoned the subscriptions department, and apparently there are 3 versions of the magazine:

Price (£)
Version3 months6 months12 months
PC Pro17.9535.90
PC Pro digital edition19.9739.94
PC Pro DVD edition9.9919.9839.96

Just to clarify, it doesn't make any difference how often you pay for a particular version, e.g. the annual cost is exactly double the 6-monthly cost. I've just put them in this format so that it's easier to compare them.

The lady I spoke to didn't have any details about the versions, so I assume that the first one is just the paper magazine (no cover disk). There's a Custom PC digital edition, so presumably the PC Pro digital edition is similar to that, i.e. an electronic copy of the magazine that you can read on a computer or an iPad (via Zinio software). This could be useful, since it would save clutter in my flat. However, if the digital version is more expensive than the paper version then there's something wrong!

I recently enthused about digital comics, but there are a few differences here.

  1. I have to pay for comics in some form (unless I go for illicit torrents), whereas PC Pro offer it all free of charge on their official website. This may make it more like the webcomic business model, since the contributors still deserve to be paid, but the current price seems excessive. (In fairness, the online version is cheaper than buying issues at cover price in a newsagent.)

  2. I want to go back and re-read old comics (or at least to have the option), whereas it's unlikely that I'll want to randomly re-read the April 2005 issue of Computer Shopper or PC Pro. If there's a particularly interesting article, I can just rip that page out of the magazine. Alternately, if I'm looking for a new printer, and I want to access their old reviews, doing it by category on their website is easier than doing it by issue.

  3. Comics fit neatly onto my screen, but computer magazines are bigger. I think that even a single page is bigger than an iPad screen (based on diagonal size), and some articles are split across a double page (for no apparent reason).

  4. Online comics don't include adverts, but I think that the digital magazines do. One of the comments on the bit-tech site (24-Sep-2010 17:27) says that removing the adverts would mess up the double page spreads; Marvel get round this by putting in blank pages where necessary, but they mostly avoid the problem anyway, because they anticipate reprinting the issues in a paperback/hardback collection. If you look at how much space the adverts take up in each issue, I suspect that it's proportionally a lot more than banner ads on a website.

  5. I can't "try before I buy". The Marvel website has a limited selection of free comics available; even if you aren't interested in those issues, you can at least open them to make sure that your OS/browser is compatible, and see whether you're comfortable with the user interface. By contrast, the digital magazine is a complete shot in the dark. I found a Wired iPAD magazine review, which mentions that a single issue involves a 527MB download. I don't know whether that's the same for PC Pro, but I would like to know before I part with any cash.

All things considered, I opted for the cheapest version. So, that saves me a few quid, and more importantly it will stop my mountain of cover disks from growing. Speaking of which, if anyone would like any of these disks, help yourself. However, I can't be bothered to list all their contents (I'd be here all week!), so it's a bit of a pig in a poke.
Tags: magazines

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