The New York Times Book Review
The New York Times Book Review (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every household I know still has at least one — a treasured print subscription. In the midst of all the unwelcome catalogs, credit card offers, and bills, there is that one weekly or monthly periodical we still get in print, still look forward to, and still place on our nightstands or living room tables.

As the holiday gift season is upon us, I thought it would be interesting to see what the Chefs are still hanging onto in the print subscription world — both for insights into what persists and holds its value, but also for possible gift ideas. So, this months “Ask the Chefs” question is:

What’s the most important print subscription you haven’t canceled?

Answers are presented in the order received, and aside from me, you are the first people to see all the answers together. Enjoy!

Stewart Wills: Every few weeks, I come home from work to find, among the usual bills, holiday catalogs, and dental-appointment reminders, the latest copy of the New York Review of Books. For as long as I’ve subscribed to it (indeed, as long as I can remember noticing), NYRB has been printed on cheap stock only slightly above newsprint quality, and in tabloid format. That makes it an uneasy fit with my suburban mailbox. Indeed, on the days it arrives, it almost arrogantly lords it over the other mail, daring you to decide whether you’ve received a newspaper, a magazine, or some left-leaning hybrid. This is a format with attitude.

In addition to the incalculable gift of making me feel more intelligent and interesting than I actually am, the print NYRB offers another: the gift of serendipity. Granted, it does not bestow that gift equally from issue to issue. Some issues seem packed with diverse, must-read material, uncannily selected with me in mind; others seem to contain nothing but billion-page appreciations of obscure painters of the Italian Renaissance—articles that I know I should read, but, alas, often don’t. “But why don’t you just go to the NYRB Web site, and search for only the content you want?” The question answers itself: Because I might miss the latest billion-page appreciation of an obscure Renaissance painter . . . **

“But surely,” you object, “NYRB could develop a slick app—one that would give you the proverbial ‘lean-back’ experience, that would multiply serendipity tenfold through the ability to browse back issues, and that would not require you to purloin the household’s latest print issue before your wife can get hold of it.” Perhaps. But until an app can be developed that offers the quiet pleasure of seeing, on a cool autumn evening, the latest issue, brusquely elbowing aside the more quotidian contents of the mailbox; an app that can capture the few minutes spent standing at the curb, leafing through the latest NYRB before folding it in half, tucking it under my arm, and going inside to settle down with it on my red living-room couch with a well-mixed Manhattan—well, until that app comes along, I guess I’ll have to stick to print.

** I’ve often wondered if even the most positive review in NYRB confers something of a mixed blessing on the authors whose works are so honored. In more cases than I’d care to mention, I’ve finished reading one of the meaty, discursive articles in this journal with the sense that the book under discussion sounds quite interesting, but that I have perhaps learned enough about the subject in the review to make something as radical as actually purchasing the book unnecessary.

Joe Esposito: I’m down to three print subscriptions: the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books. About 3-4 years ago, I began cancelling subscriptions, print and digital, because of the sheer amount of unread material. So out went Scientific American, the Economist, the Atlantic, Wired, Business Week, Against the Grain, and a lot more. And this does not include the dearly departed friends of the print world, many of which railed about the need to adapt to technological change but failed to do so themselves: the Red Herring, the Industry Standard, Upside, etc. I am happy to report that I no longer subscribe to the Wall Street Journal in any form and won’t subscribe again unless the price comes down to where it needs to be — about one-third the cost of the Times.

Calling the Times a print subscription is cheating, though, because subscribing to the Times for Sunday alone brings you unlimited access to all the digital editions — at a price cheaper than the digital editions without print. Go figure. I don’t see stopping my print subscriptions to either the New York Review or the New Yorker while I am still breathing, and don’t see their digital editions as having any utility outside of access to the archives. (The New Yorker app for the iPad is the single worst app I have installed.) I would say that the print edition of the New York Review is the central media organ of my life. I will never part with it.

By the way, all those print subscriptions I cancelled? I haven’t taken out subscriptions to any of them in digital form.

Kent Anderson: The most popular print subscription in our household, and one I can’t imagine ever giving up, is the New Yorker. That said, there are others, especially Sports Illustrated Kids and Popular Science, which my son snags as soon as they’re delivered, disappearing to read them in a flash. For my wife and I, the New Yorker has become a ritual — I get the new issues first, and hand them over to her when I’m done. This has resulted in her usually finishing the prior week’s issue at about the time I turn over the current week’s, so we’re in perfect unison. Print helps us share the issues, both in that sequencing manner but also in the smaller sense of being able to point out funny cartoons to the kids and each other, dog ear pages for one another, and rip out articles we want to save for people who might be visiting in a few weeks.

We sometimes get a year or so of free subscription for a magazine pursuing controlled circulation as a strategy. It’s often not clear why we’ve been targeted, and it’s interesting to watch our own behavior. First, we find them hard to throw away. Inevitably, we peruse them in idle moments as they lurk on our countertops. Second, if they’re about current events (and not fashion or a seasonal sport or home goods), we’ll likely read the magazines. Third, when the free subscriptions stop, we miss them. Print has the power to infiltrate its way into our lives that digital still has difficulty doing.

David Smith: My first reaction to this question was, “I don’t remember when I DID have a print subscription to something, past childhood” (The Beano — UK readers of a certain age will now nod sagely). Then a couple of neurons fired up and reminded me of the time I wrote a stroppy letter to the editors of Sky & Telescope.

I am an amateur astronomer. Now if this bug bites, and you get past the barrier of “but it’s always cloudy,” your path will take you to the magazine world for your monthly fix of info on the heavens above. It keeps you going when it’s cloudy, and provides motivation when it’s cold outside. I think people read running magazines for the same reason. Anyway, I picked up the three competitors (Sky & TelescopeS&T for those in the know; Astronomy; and our very own, Sky at Night), and S&T seemed the most interesting. So I bought a two-year subscription to it. This put me in the upper zone of subscribers, a customer who likes the product enough to give money 104 weeks in advance for a product to be supplied. And a customer giving you money two years in advance is worth something. Or so you would think. For I would regularly walk into my local newsagents and discover that the latest issue of S&T was sitting there, whilst my subscriber copy would arrive whenever (the record was a month late). Twice I rang customer services to ask where my issues were getting to. The answer was they contracted out international delivery to somebody else, couldn’t do anything about it, etc., etc. I got a few free gratis copies for my trouble, but the last one of those didn’t show up. So, when the renewal latter did make it to me (funny that) signed by the editor, I wrote back. I never got a reply. It’s nine years since that happened. I’ve not bought a copy of S&T in that time.

I went without my print-based cloudy nights fix; there’s various sites online that are pretty good for the amateur astronomer. I’d be interested in an iPad subscription to Sky at Night, but the electronic version is just far more expensive than the print — and I just don’t want the print version these days. I do buy the occasional electronic issue, though. My wife gets a cheap subscription to TIME magazine. We don’t want the print version, but again, it’s very cheap, whilst the e-version is stupidly expensive for your iDevice. So we shove more plastic and paper into the recycling bin.

You know what I do subscribe to? Spotify. An awesome offering. Turn on the high quality settings, and you have a universe of music at your fingertips. For £10 per month, it’s a bargain. I wish there was an equivalent for the magazine world. Maybe Next Issue is it (but you can’t get it in the UK so I don’t know). But an offering where you can follow your interests through the articles in various magazines, from the latest to the archives would be interesting. Spotify for Magazines. I’d pay £10 per month for that. Wouldn’t even hesitate.

Phil Davis: The New Yorker. While the publisher offers a free tablet edition — and I’ve tried a few issues on my iPad — the experience just isn’t the same. I go to the New Yorker website for other reasons: to look up older articles, to listen to extended interviews, or to read a blog, but I’ll still wait each week for the next issue to arrive in our mailbox.

Todd Carpenter: I think your question is slightly off. I don’t think the distinction about what’s important or not is directly tied to why a print subscription is retained. For example, the Wall Street Journal is quite important business reading, but it’s not something I’ve personally ever had a print subscription to.  Likewise, almost every industry publication I read is read online only.

While I have a few remaining print subscriptions, the “most important one” I still retain doesn’t have anything to do with the importance of the title. I still retain print for the Economist, Wired, and Wine Spectator (a gift), although I read both the Economist and Wired online regularly and perhaps more online than in print. In addition to these, I purposely retain two print subscriptions to two print photography magazines, B&W and Aperture. If I cared enough about getting rid of the paper, I would probably cut the first three print subscriptions, since I read most of that content online anyway. These two art magazines, however, I wouldn’t cancel. The photographic and design experience of digital art publications is not yet up to the quality of print publications. Even though the Apple Retina display is impressive, it doesn’t equal the quality of a highly-produced print copy for art images. In addition, the design experience of Aperture, in particular, is not something that is yet replicable outside of a PDF file, which is a poor simultaneous reading/viewing experience. The advances of CSS 3, adaptive layout, and media queries are improving the digital experience for highly designed publications, but in this particular use case, it will be some time yet before the online experience will match the overall experience of print. Until we reach that point, I’ll still keep my print subscriptions to photography magazines. More or less, everything else can go digital from my perspective.  (I should note, though, that I am happy that libraries retain print for preservation purposes, since I am not convinced that digital preservation is something the community has worked out completely, but that is another post!)

Rick Anderson: I don’t personally subscribe to any scholarly journals; my library provides me with access to all of them I need. But the one personal print magazine subscription I can’t imagine myself ever canceling is the Atlantic. Over the years I’ve subscribed to many news-and-commentary titles, but I’ve eventually abandoned all of them: Newsweek faded into a pale shadow of its former self before eventually disappearing (for all intents and purposes) completely last year, and the Christian Science Monitor seems to be on a glide path to the same fate. I tried the Economist for a year, but I eventually realized I was reading it entirely out of obligation and that I quietly dreaded its weekly appearance. I still read Harper’s with some regularity, but the older I get the less patience I have with its smug, sneering nihilism (the cover story this month, and every month, is “Everyone’s a Phony and We’re All Going to Die and Good Riddance”). The Atlantic, on the other hand, makes my day every time it shows up in my mailbox. I appreciate its even-handedness (which should not be confused with “objectivity”): in one issue I’m likely to encounter a withering takedown of the US military’s incompetent generals by a writer like Thomas Ricks; in another issue I might find Caitlin Flanagan speaking truth to power about the real costs of divorce culture. Sandra Tsing Loh is usually hilarious (though often mordant and sometimes frustratingly glib). James Fallows, Clive Crook, David Graham — I don’t consider any of these writers an infallible source of pure truth (who is?), but as a group I find them compelling, sensible, enjoyable to read and richly informative. Consistent pleasure and useful information: what more can you ask of a news magazine?

Michael Clarke: I don’t really think of my remaining print subscriptions in terms of “importance” versus online-only subscriptions. I keep a number of print subscriptions for various reasons unrelated to their overall ranking in my personal hierarchy of information sources. I keep a Sunday-only subscription to the New York Times, for example, because I enjoy the ritual of the physical paper on a Sunday morning. Also, it is twice as much to subscribe to the digital-only edition for some reason so it would be worth it to subscribe to the print edition even if I never fetched it from my building lobby. I keep the Economist and the New Yorker mainly for reading during takeoff and landing. Both publications throw in a print edition for a small premium ($10/year in the case of the New Yorker) over online-only access so it is worth it to avoid the airline’s house magazine. That being said, I also read these publications online and via their iPad apps just as frequently as I read them in print. I also still receive print editions of various other magazines out of laziness (I haven’t made the switch as yet as I dread the complicated renewal jujitsu), because they were gifts, or because the publication doesn’t offer an online-only edition (I’m looking at you Nature). I probably could quite happily switch to digital-only access to all of these tomorrow – it is mostly FAA regulations and publisher pricing/bundling, which continues to incentivize print and that provides my mail carrier continued job security. The one print publication I would likely continue to hold on to is Monocle. Monocle is a preposterously thick publication that is gorgeously typeset, filled with pictures, and would loose something without the print artifact. That being said, I consider Monocle to be the least important publication I subscribe to, so there you go.

Alice Meadows: Unfortunately, answering this question truthfully will, I fear, reveal me as the deeply shallow person I really am! Not for me a subscription to the Economist or the Nation, nor even Vanity Fair. You see, my secret weakness is women’s magazines — more specifically British women’s magazines. Not the super glossy advertising vehicles like Vogue, nor the super trashy gossip mags like Hello. No, my tastes are decidedly middlebrow, and my one remaining paid print subscription is, therefore, to the UK edition of Good Housekeeping.

Why print? Well, apart from the fact that it feels like such a treat when it arrives (so much of my mail is either bills or junk), I love that it’s printed on nice paper, well laid out, and with lots of well produced full-color pictures. I also love that it primarily features people and places from what will always, to some extent, be my homeland. And, of course, I especially love that I can read it (safely!) in the bath.

So, much though I enjoy reading the newspaper on my Kindle, and I’m very happy to read news, feature, and scholarly articles online I’m not about to give up my print subscription to Good Housekeeping anytime soon.

However, if the damage is not already done, perhaps the fact that I do also still value my free editorial board member’s print subscription to Learned Publishing will reinstate me as a slightly more credible Chef!

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.


18 Thoughts on "Ask the Chefs: "What's the Most Important Print Subscription You Haven't Canceled?""

Great article, I agree with David I would happily subscribe to a Spotify like service if it was a consume all you want or even some sort of library system like O’Reilly’s Safari books offering. I also agree with Michael’s statement “I don’t really think of my remaining print subscriptions in terms of “importance” versus online-only subscriptions”

I subscribe to print versions of: Mac Format (UK) and the newspaper Wales on Sunday (for my sins a Welsh rugby fan living in England), also gift subscribe for my wife Cotswolds Life.

I am considering to convert to the eMagazine version of Mac Format as no longer need DVDs to get the extra’s of the magazine.

For me there are so many missed opportunities with the eMagazines. Lets take for instance Cotswolds Life, quite a high end publication for people living in or interested in the country life of this particular area of the UK (An area of only 25 miles by 90 miles, . Every estate agent has listings in this magazine for houses normally over the £1million mark. Also there are businesses listed in the magazine along with events. Why can’t all these be mapped so that all I have to do is click on a link from the magazine and be off to a website, its not hard especially as this is a location focused magazine crying out for this type of feature.

Until magazine editors catch-up with the potential that technology gives them for their publication, rather than porting over a copy of the print, especially those that are simply flat like pdf’s that don’t even make links active then the print versions will be around for a long time.

I would recommend that all magazine editors look towards publications like Red Bull for the potential of what is achievable, (embedded video/audio, photo galleries and links out to web content). With the proliferation of 7″ and 10″ devices there is now the user base on Android and iOS, with the disposable income that would purchase the eMagazines.

This is a must-read on the Spotify model:

It’s yet another explanation by a musician of how the economics of these sorts of subscription services do not work for content creators. But better yet is the explanation of the economic goals of companies like Spotify–they don’t exist to turn a profit or to be sustainable. “They exist to attract speculative capital.” Those with access to that capital are earning millions of dollars from the stock’s value while the company crashes and burns. That doesn’t offer much hope for long term viability of this business model.

Agree, this article is extremely important, as is the observation that many new business models exploit content to drive short-term greed, not long-term artistic communities.

I’ve read some stuff that indicates that spotify’s biz model actually delivers MORE money over the lifetime of the content item. See here for a very informative look at this area:

I’m not qualified to comment either way, but I would note that the current business model for artists ensures that the labels do very well and the artists usually get screwed. There’s plenty of links out there where artists have lifted the veil on how their earnings never quite seem to make back the advances they were given. Let’s not conflate the fact that Spotify pays the music labels (due to the historical set up of the music industry) rather than the artists themselves and shift the blame to Spotify.

Spotify’s $0.004611 rate doesn’t seem bad to me.

To take an album I love dearly; (The Head on the Door by The Cure)

10 tracks. I paid £5.99 for it back in the day (1985ish, maybe 86). You can still get it for that money now. So that’s £0.599 per track. And I’ve played that album well over 100 times in the 25 years or so since I bought it. That’s £0.00599 per track played to date. About the same as Spotify then (notwithstanding the £/$ issue of course). It’s not miles out is it. And by the way, of that original £5.99, The Cure would have got about £1-2. But only after they had earned back their advance…

Do you have a link David, that supports your assertion that Spotify only exists to attract speculative capital?

Right now, the music industry gets more money out of me over the last (nearly) 4 years Spotify has been around then they got the previous 4 years. And unless one buys more than 13 CDs/downloaded albums (at £8:99 each) the music industry will get more money from anybody else who uses the service as well.

I’m happy to pay for information.

The current methods, I find lacking given the amount of value I get for any highly restricted subs based information resource.

Spotify represents the A la carte consumption model backed with a robust (if maybe imperfect at this time) method for transferring my money to a content creator. And here, bluntly, is why I like it so much.

I got sick and tired of buying CDs that had 78 mins of music on them from artists frankly only capable of producing 42 – 47 mins worth of decent material for a given album period.

And it’s the same with magazines, newspapers and other info containers.

Our old models of pricing were based on the limitations of the distribution mechanism. the new ones don’t have to be. It’s time we started getting our heads around that fact. Spotify might just be trying to do that.

The Gizmodo article quotes a report from a company that makes money negotiating rights for artists on subscription sites like Spotify, and given that conflict of interest, it’s important to look at it with a skeptical eye. No actual numbers seem to be given, just that the amounts paid have increased 250% (and 250% of nothing is nothing–here that would seemingly represent a change from a royalty rate of $0.001844 to $0.004611). The question of label versus artist is also irrelevant in the case of Galaxie 500 in the article I linked, as it is noted that they retained all of their own rights and are negotiating and being paid directly by streaming services.

I do not have a link stating that the business model of such services is to pull in venture capital, then to cash out before the roof falls in. That is speculation by the author of the article linked, but it’s not an uncommon strategy going back to the dotcom boom. No company would ever admit such a strategy as it would inhibit investment. But we do live in an era where it’s easier to get rich by gaming the system than it is to invent something useful and sustainable.

As for your Cure album, it’s a lot easier for an artist to live on a one-time payment of £2 than it is for them to live receiving that same £2 over the course of more than 25 years. But that’s not an accurate statement of how music contracts work, as is your statement about earning back one’s advance. See David Lowery’s really long piece here that explains things better:

This is what people do not understand. When they look at the royalties that the record labels paid artists it doesn’t seem like a lot. It seems unfair. Until you consider the guaranteed advances. Let’s say the artist was to be paid a lowly 12% royalty by contract. That compares unfavorably to the 61% of revenue that the independent artist gets from iTunes. But the artist is always given an advance and usually the advance assumes moderate success. But 9 of those 10 bands did not achieve great success even moderate success. It was never expected that all 10 would be successful. So the result was that the record label artist actually received a lot more than that contractual 12%. The unsuccessful artist may have received an advance that was equal to 90% of the gross revenue generated by that recording. And most artists were unsuccessful. So your average record label artist was actually receiving way more than 12%. The artist royalty rate is actually the floor. It’s the minimum share of revenue the artist will receive.

(I know this is probably really confusing to you civilians. Am I really saying it’s better to be un-recouped as an artist? Yes it is. Quantitative finance geeks will see this as selling a series of juicy “covered calls”. Being un-recouped means you took in more money than you were due by contract. You took in more money than your sales warranted. And there was a sweet spot, being un-recouped but not too un-recouped. For instance I estimate that over my 15 year career at Virgin/EMi we took in advances and royalties equivalent to about 40% of our gross sales. In other words we had an effective royalty rate of 40%, despite the fact that by contract our rate was much lower).

You’re right overall though, that we’re going through a time of changing models, and seemingly one of evaluation as well. As you note, you’re spending more than previously on music, and you’re getting service at a better level. At the same time, the costs of being a musician have skyrocketed, so despite your increased spending, musicians are receiving less net revenue than before. The excess revenue is going to the middlemen, who unlike the music labels (horrible as they were), invest nothing in the development of new music and artists. You’re better off, the middlemen are better off, but the creators themselves are worse off.

Oh, I’m very skeptical 🙂 So I was simplifying in order to not end up down the rabbit hole of US vs rest of world recording contracts… Yup, the artist gets an advance. And all the expenses incurred get taken out of the royalty that the artist gets. Split amongst the members of the band and after the band management cut of course. Unless you are a very hot act, you don’t get a great advance and your sure as hell earn it back (expenses, expenses). You also pay for the recording out of the advance… I’ve seen artists write about being resigned to never being recouped, so there’s clearly 2 sides to Lowery’s thoughts on whether it’s good to be unrecouped or not. On my £5.99 album bought back in the 80’s The Cure would have got somewhere between £1 and 2 of that, less ‘expenses’.

And so to whether £2 upfront is worth more than £2 over a lifetime. What if the difference is such that it’s £2 vs £3 (per person who buys the album vs the streaming income). Objectively, £2 is £2 regardless of the period over which it is earned (yes I know inflation and all that, I’m normalising for the purposes of discussion). Which sort of starts to suggest that the issue here is the fact that we value content highly initially and then devalue it over time. But in the digital world, content value can be decoupled from time. In fact its maximum value is reached (assuming a payment per play) when the rights for the item pass into the public domain. Now some content IS time valuable, but a lot of content isn’t.

The advance is really a key issue. There are many artists, I recall the Backstreet Boys being one of the better examples, who sold millions of albums but never made a penny from royalties. They knew this would be the case, and assumed that their entire earnings from their recording contract would come in the form of the advance, and negotiated with that in mind. That has, historically according to Lowery, been a better deal for artists.

All the costs of recording and such came out of the artist’s advance. And that was a good thing as well, because it gave the artist seed money to create the recording. The artist would start with a large payday, have funding for creating the work, and money to live on and invest. There was a potential for the advance to earn out and more money to be earned from royalties, but this was a rare happening. Now the independent route offers no such backing. The artist starts with nothing and must go into debt to pay for the creation of the work. They get to keep all of the earnings (minus the very large cuts taken by Apple, Google, Spotify, etc.), but according to Lowery, that’s not as good a deal for the artist. His numbers show their earnings decreasing, not increasing.

And again, if you give me £2 right now, I can go buy a loaf of bread. If you give me £3 at a rate of £0.12 per year over 25 years, I can’t buy a loaf of bread until 16 years have passed. That means I’m going to have to get a real job and stop spending so much time faffing about with my guitar for pennies. I’d rather a system that rewards content creators enough to allow them to earn a living creating content.

But the situation isn’t that different than most other types of content these days. We used to be limited by distribution channels and had to pay what was asked. Then we hit the digital age, and everything could very easily be taken without paying anything at all. At some point, either we decide we value creation and pay enough for it to encourage it to continue, or we decide it’s not worth the money and that we’re satisfied with amateurs recording music, writing books, covering the news in their spare time as hobbies.

Personally, I think it’s an important enough end unto itself. And that’s the problem the article notes with Spotify. He sees it as not being a vehicle that values music or musicians, but instead just sees them as random bits that can be plugged into a system meant to churn the Wall Street money machine. As Lowery notes, the old record companies were horrible, but at least they liked music, and were willing to support musicians as they developed. Until Spotify or one of its like can offer a sustainable business model with adequate support for creators, they’re just another drain on the system, further cementing the notion that music (or content) has very little value.

David, to be honest if the magazine app was good enough I would quite happily pay for it at the same value as a standard print subscription (maybe even more if the multimedia aspect was there). On the spotify front I was more interested in “dipping my toes” into magazines that I would not normally read, then I would be tempted to buy more subscriptions. I agree that a sustainable business model is key.

Thanks for pointing me to this article.

I don’t have any print subscriptions. I may be sent some hard copies of academic journals but I didn’t ask for them or pay for them.

I am much more plebeian, I subscribe to Road and Track, Automobile, and Vanity Fair. I even save them for about a year and often go back to read something.

It’s the New Yorker for me too, but the New Yorker also has a very elegant iPad app which I not only read, but find esthetically beautiful.

Here’s a paradox – one of the best print magazines going gets better all the time by knowing its audience, and is so well loved it didn’t change its title when it clearly ceased to describe the contents adequately. It is a listings mag for TV and radio which has survived the digital era and the revolution in media programming, it has the heart of the BBC in it, and so my favourite print item must be my weekly subscription to Radio Times! I also love and subscribe to my local newspaper. Why?

Partly because in both cases I DON’T WANT TO MISS ANYTHING GOOD. Digital formats never leave you sure you have everything covered. Second, because I want to read and share easily. Print is still great for sharing. Print also scores because we all read these items – the whole family – and print is good and flexible and family friendly. I don’t want to go into deep detail, I want to skim without missing stuff – again print scores though I can go to digital to drill down. I want to read the same version my friends and neighbours read so I can be sure we have roughly the same level of knowledge to start – more flexible formats wouldn’t give me that.

So, Radio Times rules. It isn’t mainly about radio, it describes listings which died several years ago in the heat of non-synch programming apparently, it is in a glossy format that is deeply unfashionable in some circles, and I love it!

Hat tip to the Radio Times, I still pick this up from time to time for the interviews in the front.

I’m surprised that nobody mentioned National Geographic. In my opinion this is the most beautiful and poignant periodical and I personally hope that it never ceases a print edition. I look forward to receiving it each month and soak in the brilliance of the photography and the engaging stories – I never skip a single page. But then again I can’t really “cancel” my print edition since I received a lifetime subscription from my grandfather when I was eight years old. But I would keep it even if I had to pay for it.

I am really cheap so my only print subscription is to Science, but since I got my iPad I find I do not have time to read it so will probably let it lapse. I now live in realer time.

I agree with the comments about The New Yorker, the iPad edition is a well executed reading app. But I have a weakness for checking the print issue for the cartoons and then going back to read articles especially ones by Atul Gawande and Malcolm Gladwell. The print edition of The New York Times has been a daily pleasure for more years than I care to disclose. The layout and the ads on do not really work for me and the app remains somewhat of a mystery. My “better half” recieves a number of print magazines and they tend to end up in the one room in the house were a fair amount of reading is done and a place where I have not yet seen either his laptop or tablet. Pehaps that could be the topic for further research and discussion.

I agree completely with Alice, my Good Housekeeping subscription is a haven amongst all the technology and library related material I deal with on a daily basis. Its something just for me. And anyone who has ever tried to wipe cake batter off an ipad/laptop or any electronic device – will know just how hazard it can be. And as all good chefs know, you adjust the recipe to suit your cooker etc and you can’t make notes on the e-verions

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