Last year I started subscribing to several magazines at the Kindle Newsstand and read them on my iPad. For $1.99 or $2.99 a month, it’s very easy to try out a magazine. Then towards the end of the year I realized I wasn’t reading these magazines and cancelled my subscriptions. I figured I’d wait until I had time to read, then go through the back issues and decide if I really wanted to subscribe again. Well, today I went to look at some of the back issues and they wouldn’t download. I got a message “License Limit Reached.”
At first this message seem to imply that I had too many registered devices. I have two iPod touches, two e-ink Kindles, one iPad, one Kindle cloud reader, and six different PC readers. I deregistered everything but one touch, two Kindles and one iPad. Still got the message. So I called Amazon. The first lady I talked to was very nice, but she eventually bumped me up a service level. The second lady knew exactly what my problem was. If you cancel your subscription, but haven’t downloaded the magazines you bought to a device yet, you will get the license limit reached error.
I told her I felt I had bought those magazines and assumed I’d always have them. She said unfortunately, that’s not how the system works with the licensing agreement they have with the magazines. I didn’t think that was right, but the lady I was talking with was very nice, and I assumed she was stuck with this policy, so it wasn’t Amazon’s fault. The helpdesk lady did apologize and gave me a token credit.
FYI: always download your magazines from the cloud to your devices before you cancel your subscription. And I noticed that I didn’t have this problem with my old issues of The Rolling Stone Magazine. I had just re-subscribed to it. But then I couldn’t remember I had previously downloaded all those issues. So just for kicks, I re-subscribed to The New York Review of Books, and viola, my old issues were again available to download.
Crazy Subscription Pricing
I read on the iPad with the Kindle reader to save trees. It just ecological. Also, you can try a magazine without buying a whole year’s worth. Most magazines at the Kindle Newsstand are available for a monthly fee. But pricing is crazy.
Yesterday, at my favorite bookstore, I saw an issue of The Rolling Stone Magazine I wanted to read. It was $4.99, plus tax at the book store. It’s $1.99 a month at Amazon, which means I get 2 issues for $1.99, a savings of $8 over the newsstand price of two issues. 26 issues is $19.97 a year via a paper subscription – or 77 cents an issue. So I’m paying Amazon $23.88 a year for the electronic version, or 92 cents an issue.
So the cheapest way to get The Rolling Stone is to buy the paper copy and have them mail it to you. How is that even possible? I’m paying them $4 a year more not to print the magazine and mail it to me. Not only that, but if I subscribed to the paper copy I’d be eligible to read the entire archive of back issues online. This is a conundrum for me. I want to be ecological. A lot of carbon goes into printing and mailing, and that makes me feel guilty about the physical copy subscription. But for $4 less money I’d get the digital archive! That’s so tempting.
You’d think they’d charge less for the Kindle edition because there’s no printing or postal costs. Maybe Amazon’s cut requires the increase, yet Amazon also sells the paper subscriptions for $19.97, just two cents more than Rolling Stones does with it’s fall out cards in the mag.
The New York Review of Books is $41.88 yearly at the Kindle Newsstand at $3.49 a month, but it’s $69.00 a year at their site, or $74.95 a year for the paper and online edition. So Amazon is a bargain, except once again I don’t get access to the digital archive. I’d rather pay less and read The New York Review of Books on my iPad, but I sure would love access to the digital archive.
The Future of Magazine
It seems obvious that we’re moving toward a digital future. Why waste all that money on printing and postage when magazines can be instantly delivered. To me the perfect magazine subscription would be the cheapest with the least commitment, along with access to the entire archive of the magazine’s history. I’m willing to pay a monthly fee for new and old. What I’d really love is paying a monthly fee like Netflix’s and get access to a bunch of magazines. Next Issue does offer such a service now for $10-15 a month, but they don’t have the magazines I want to read. It’s like cable TV, 200 channels and nothing to watch. I’m currently subscribing to two magazines that totals $5.48 a month. If The Rolling Stone and The New York Review of Books were available at Next Issue along with 1-2 other magazines I wanted, then $10 a month would be a good deal. I’d need 5-6 magazines I really wanted to make it worth $15 a month. I’ll keep my eye out on Next Issue, but for now it seems weight towards women’s magazines.
JWH – 2/24/13