I wasn’t terribly surprised when I learned that Entertainment Weekly, a magazine devoted to, well, entertainment, was closing its print edition, even though it promised to have a vital web presence.
In all the hype around newspapers closing left and right, magazines seem to have taken over the backseat, though they too are dropping like flies.
I have always been an avid magazine reader. It started when I was 14, and my mom gave me a 13-week Sports Illustrated subscription as a birthday present. Of course, once those 13 weeks were up, I couldn’t stop reading the magazine. So we refueled for a year. I can’t remember how much a one year subscription cost then, probably $24.95, but it put me on a road that I still travel.
There have been many magazines over the years, most of them are long gone and forgotten. Does anyone remember Sport or Premiere? How about Spin?
But there were always three constants in my mailbox. Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly. At the height of their power, they published over 150 issues a year.
Now Entertainment Weekly is gone and Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone come out once a month. I expect Sports Illustrated to stop printing next. A sports magazine that comes out once a month isn’t worth much. Yes, their stable of reporters can tell great non-gaming stories, but in a time when you have to know something the second it happens, the monthly is a death sentence.
Rolling Stone could hold out a bit longer. They were twice a month for decades before dropping back down to once a month. They tried to catch up. They made the magazine bigger and it has more content. But in the world of entertainment/politics, monthly is a very bad word.
And once upon a time, you could get two years of Rolling Stone, 48 issues, for $29.95. Now they want $89.95 for one year, 12 issues. This is completely and utterly ridiculous. It’s like they want to kill the printing problem.
In my youth, I kept all the magazines I received. They piled up quickly and at some point all succumbed to a damp basement. After that I just threw them away. Then I started “donating” them to the library. Now I just put them in a recycling bin.
I know to some people a story or an article is the same whether it’s on a printed page or on a phone, tablet or computer screen, but holding a magazine in my hands makes things special for any reason.
A magazine has always had a lot of people working on it, and that’s how it was. From writers and editors to photographers and advertisers, you knew a lot of people were hopefully proud of their work.
When you look at something on a screen, you are probably looking at something the writer hopes to get paid for and an anonymous hacker then uploads it to a computer/server and that’s it. There may be a publisher somewhere, but no one takes pride in it.
Do not mistake yourself. There are still plenty of magazines out there, most of them devoted to home and entertainment combined with real-life stories. Like People, who is always kicking.
But it’s not like the good old days when gigantic sections of stores were given over to magazines and paperbacks. Once upon a time, many years ago, Sweetwater even had its own magazine/bookstore. I used to buy stuff there, including comics, believe it or not. We won’t talk about those strange machines that were at the back of the store and which would sometimes earn you more than the quarter you invested if you were lucky.
I always get excited when I take a magazine out of the mailbox. Who knows what goodies it contains? Maybe they finally published the letter to the editor I sent. Does anyone remember the letters to the editor? It was what you did before you could just comment on the internet and say whatever your feverish brain wanted to say.
Just another way of life coming to an end. No doubt it will not be the last.