The Problem with Magazine Subscriptions

I went on magazine subscription binge in 2013.

All 5 magazine subscriptions wrapped up this month. I’m looking forward to empty mailboxes (the offline kind) and less clutter. Soon, all these piles of magazines from the last 12 months will be gone.

It’s funny how I got to this point. Two years ago, my primary care provider asked me to go through supplementation therapy. This meant accumulating a stash of 8 different supplements, refreshed on a monthly basis. Realizing I’ll be under this program for a while, I had to look for cheaper options. I found an online retailer selling at 20% off the list price. As with most online retailers, they partnered with another company for bonus offers upon checking out. The deal went like this – get two free magazine subscriptions, just pay a dollar for shipping.

It worked out pretty well and the digital edition bundled with each subscription was valuable. Of course, I didn’t consider the physicality of magazines. After a few months, piles of glossy paper have started to emerge on our coffee and dining tables. The pile on our side table was stealing precious real estate as well. Even our magazine rack was calling getting filled to the brim.

The recycling bin was just two doors away yet I still found it hard to part with these printed liabilities. I just got overwhelmed with a nagging sense of responsibility to read them. Maybe I’ll find myself reading during my commute. Maybe I can catch up while relaxing at the park. Maybe I should have a magazine day set and just do a marathon reading – just because(?).

But it just lay there, unread. It went on for months. Soon, I would deprive myself of the joys of buying magazines on impulse at the newsstand. Back home, a hoarded pile of unread magazines are crying foul. Read us first! It was a battle between commitment vs. spontaneity, making time vs. finding time, $4.99 vs $0.69.

It’s tough to be a magazine. I’ve grown accustomed to my Feed reader and Instapaper routine on the train and it works just like a magazine. Not to mention so many things vying for our attention.

After shutting off the media faucet (and avoiding steep renewal fees) I’m just down to my last two magazine piles.

I think I’ll celebrate with a visit to the newsstand.