Read Customer Reviews
Though publishers provide a description of the content and editorial focus of the magazine, it is in their best interest to make the magazine sound as attractive as possible. When available, customer reviews can provide an unbiased view of the magazine from a reader’s perspective. Customer Reviews to magazines can give potential subscribers and readers information on everything from the quality of the content, the number of ad pages featured in a magazine (an ongoing complaint with many readers) to the specific delivery habits of a publisher.
It is important to read more than one review, to be able to gain a general consensus of the magazine. If the general consensus is that magazine quality has suffered or if the editorial focus has changed (for either better or worse) the information is readily available.
Online customers have a decided advantage. There are a number of consumer and shopping sites with this information available. Online Magazine subscription sellers usually encourage their customers to write reviews of the magazines they purchase as a courtesy.
Find Your Niche
Many customers choose a magazine subscription based on the popularity of the magazine or name recognition. Just because a magazine has experienced popularity does not mean that it will fit the need of every customer. Increased competition among publishers has led most publishers to cater to a specific niche within a particular category. Every category will have at least one general interest magazine that seems to cover a wide breadth of information. However, customers tend to be happier with subscriptions that cater directly to them and are geared towards their interests specifically.
For example, Bon Appetit is one of the more popular magazines in the cooking category. The magazine includes recipes, entertainment information, restaurants reviews etc. However, the novice cook would likely be better served purchasing a different subscription. Many of the recipes in Bon Appetit have been categorized as difficult for a beginner with many of the ingredients being difficult to locate. While a great magazine, Bon Appetit is more of a generalist, and is not a good fit for a beginner or someone who is looking for a large number of recipes.
Another example would be the baseball fan that doesn’t particularly care for other sports. A magazine subscription to Baseball Digest would likely be a better fit than a more popular magazine such as Sporting News. Though Sporting News would provide baseball coverage, it would likely lack the in-depth coverage of the aforementioned magazine because of the other sports it needs to cover, and because of space limitations. The Baseball Digest subscriber would also be able to receive Baseball information during the off season when baseball news in other generalist magazines is likely to be limited.
Price Does In Fact Matter
In some instances customers will face having to decide between magazines with the same quality and editorial focus. For example, Sports Illustrated has long been a leader in the sports magazine category. ESPN, known for their television and radio sports broadcasting has experienced phenomenal growth of the ESPN Magazine. Many of ESPN’s issues sell out at the newsstands. Much of the growth has been attributed to the low price of the magazine.
Though customers are interested in quality, cost is important and many customers and publishers are benefiting. People Magazine and National Geographic have definitely felt the competition from magazines like US Weekly, and Discover. These magazines are very similar but are far less costly.
If still in doubt about what magazine subscriptions to purchase after narrowing down the list, buying one or two copies at the newsstand is a great way to find out if a long term commitment is ideal.