07 December 2012

Going Digital

Welcome back. Maybe you can help. I thought this was a personal problem and didn’t want to bring it up before. Now I know it’s not just me.

Do you remember my long ago blog posts on reading newspapers and books? Along with the good parts, you learned that I buy a couple of newspapers each week but rely mostly on online news sources; subscribe to and read several magazines cover to cover; don’t read books for pleasure; and, after retiring, began shedding technical literature I received.

It turns out that, as I began my shedding process, magazines I subscribe to began shedding me. They’re going digital, forcing me to…what? That’s my problem.

Lost Subscribers and Advertisers

I saw this coming years ago, standing arms full by a recycling dumpster. They stopped separating newspaper from cardboard and other paper, even phonebooks. I thought there was a chance print magazines might survive, but advertisers and subscribers kept going elsewhere.

American Scientist, a magazine I’ve received for nearly 45 years, went digital but offered to send a print version at an additional cost.

Newsweek, which went through a recent spell of unworthiness and which I’ve also received for some 40 years, is going digital in 2013--no print version.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, another long-received magazine, is examining alternatives. An informal query of readers generated a range of responses. While appreciating the cool things online magazines can provide, readers like me dog-ear or annotate pages, rip out articles, spend too much time on a computer, want to relax with the magazine, and admit to already ending an affair with a magazine that went digital.

Viewing a digital magazine
on a desktop computer.

Online Reading

Recognizing that the situation is only going to get worse, that it will save trees and that there are computer analogs for dog-earing and the like, I’ve begun serious consideration of online reading.

I sit for hours at my desktop computer. When not blogging, emailing or gazing out the window for the next dazzling sentence or thought, I read selected articles from various sources. Reading a magazine cover to cover has always been accomplished in a prone or semi-prone position or where computers shouldn’t be taken. I would not read an online magazine cover to cover while sitting at my desktop computer. Which is to say, please don’t make me.

My wife uses a small laptop for most of her computer needs. Although I wouldn’t attempt to emulate her lotus position while holding the device, a laptop would work for at least semi-prone reading, and it would permit other activities. Still, those other activities would really have to add up to justify investing in a laptop.

Alternative Reading Devices

It didn’t take long to rule out e-book readers. They’re best for reading, especially electronic books, but if I ever started reading books, I’d go hardcopy. Plus, I want color for magazines.

That brought me to tablet computers, which is not a topic to taste slowly. While digesting one review, I stepped away to answer the phone, returned and found the review was out of date. (That’s a slight exaggeration, but only slight.)

Wrap Up

Any help you care to offer would be appreciated. Starting-point choices are: drop digital magazines, stay with the desktop but forego cover-to-cover reading, or surrender to cover-to-cover reading on my desktop. There’s probably a chair that I can use semi-prone at my desk.

Thanks for stopping by.

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