The golden age of the newspaper this is not
I was having lunch with a colleague yesterday and she mentioned she had admonished her brother for not subscribing to his daily newspaper. He protested that he read the paper online, to which she responded that was not “enough.” While everyone should be well informed about important issues, as book publicists and authors and others in the publishing industry, I think we also have a duty to support the institutions that are so integral to promoting our products.
Online news sites — many of which I frequent — are marvelous inventions and marvelous ways to promote our books. At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that free online news content is draining the lifeblood of newspapers and magazines. These past few weeks have witnessed the shuttering of two large city dailies — the Rocky Mountain News and the Seattle Post Intelligencer — and Yahoo predicted that more large newspapers will fold or go digital. Soon.
Granted, a daily newspaper subscription isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It certainly isn’t mine — when you get up with just enough time to brush your teeth, you’re not going to pore through a newspaper over a steaming cup of coffee (as nice as that looks on TV). Fortunately, there often exist “in between” options — weekend subscriptions, for example. Also, Amazon’s Kindle Store offers subscriptions to newspapers across the country (and the world) and magazines.
On the (print) magazine end, virtually all consumer magazines offer subscribers ridiculous discounts off newstand prices. Many popular monthly magazines end up costing less than $20 annually, although weeklies are obviously pricier (and if you absolutely must have your Us Weekly like, um, yours truly, that will run you a bit more). For book publicists who itemize tax deductions, don’t forget that newspaper and magazine subscriptions are absolutely legitimate deductions.
Of course, as we all know, people who work in publishing are just rolling in money. Especially now. Still, there are ways to cut corners — that don’t involve Spam and Easy Mac — that can leave you with a chunk of change you can use for a newspaper or magazine subscription (or a donation to your local public radio or television station, but that’s a whole other matter).
We could say this isn’t our problem, that publications are simply responding to market forces and that the strong will survive. But we’re all knowledge mongerers and this is a symbiotic relationship we have with magazine and newspaper publishers. Ultimately, their financial health will depend upon far more than a few subscriptions, but it’s one place to start.