PC Magazine bites the dust

I read this morning that Ziff Davis will cease the print edition of PC Magazine to take the publication online, the January 2009 will be the last paper edition of this 27-year old computer magazine. The reason for the move to go web-only is the declining circulation and plummeting advertising.

PC Magazine’s circulation dropped from a peak of 1.2 million in the late 1990s, to only 600,000 this year. That’s almost 12x less than the seven million unique visitors PC Magazine’s website receives a month. The print magazine was still profitable this year, but Ziff Davis’ projections forecast a loss for 2009 due to fewer ads and rising costs.

NY Times reports the change will not require much of an adjustment, as all content already gets published online first:

While most magazines make their money mainly from print advertising, PC Magazine derives most of its profit from its Web site. More than 80 percent of the profit and about 70 percent of the revenue come from the digital business, Mr. Young said, and all of the writers and editors have been counted as part of the digital budget for two years.

The change will not require much of an adjustment, because the focus has been on getting articles to the Web first, said Lance Ulanoff, the editor of the PCMag Digital Network, which is what PCMag.com and its accompanying Web sites were renamed on Wednesday. “All content goes online first, and print has been cherry-picking for some time what it wants for the print edition,” Mr. Ulanoff said.

Personally, I think more and more computer and gaming magazines will either vanish or go web-only. The target audience of these magazines surfs the web a lot and instead of paying a couple of dollars a month for just one magazine, they can get news, reviews and previews from thousands of sources online for free.

And not only do the websites publish these articles a lot faster, in many cases they are also a lot more detailed than what the magazines have to offer. These days most of the print computer & tech magazines offer too little value to justify a subscription IMO.


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