Thursday, April 3, 2008

Free Online Magazines

I just discovered The Winding Road, an online-only magazine about cars rather like Car & Driver. Like a traditional print magazine, it's published monthly and typeset into a page-based layout. Subscribers can access an in-browser viewer application that simulates reading a paper magazine two pages at a time. Subscription is free; the magazine is supported by advertisements embedded in the magazines.

I'm pretty happy that something like this exists, and frankly surprised I didn't find out about it earlier.

I've replaced nearly all of my magazine and newspaper consumption with blogs, because blogs:
  • are free
  • don't create the clutter of old issues
  • don't involve the waste of printing and shipping
  • are upfront about their viewpoint/bias
  • are written by enthusiastic volunteers or entrepreneurs
  • don't pester me with misleading renewal ads
However, blogs fall short in a small number of areas. Blog posts tend to be limited to the equivalent of a printed page or so, and sometimes I appreciate an article that goes into more depth. I also appreciate professional-grade writing, and frankly this is rare among blogs. And there are some kinds of articles -- testing very expensive equipment, for example -- that require resources and connections that individual bloggers can't muster.

So I'm happy to see this compromise of a professionally-written periodical that's still free and supported by ads. This combines several of the "pros" of blogs I listed above, with the "pros" of print magazines. I read somewhere that magazines get nearly all of their revenue from advertising, not sales, so this business model should be sustainable.

Hopefully more magazines like this will crop up, covering a variety of topics. Then I could finally ax my last couple magazine subscriptions.

No comments: