5 changes I’d like to see to Kindle magazine subscriptions

5 changes I’d like to see to Kindle magazine subscriptions

Generally, I like the way Amazon does content for me. Sure, there are changes I’d like to see everywhere, but I’m not dissatisfied with the current set up on e-books, for example.

On magazines, though? I roll my eyes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In fact, we recently dropped some magazine subscriptions through the Kindle store. I checked with everybody on the account, and we just weren’t really reading them enough.

I would have kept them, though, if a few things had been different.

Now, before I list these, let me say that I know this isn’t all under Amazon’s control. I very often see people blaming Amazon for things that somebody else has to change. I saw that recently with somebody wanting digital access to a publication to which they have a paper subscription. Amazon can’t just scan the paper magazine and make it available to you. It’s up to the magazine publisher to do that.

Some of them do. In fact, there are 46 currently listed in the

Print+Kindle section

Those are just the ones that are part of that program. I could also get Entertainment Weekly at no additional cost as a digital subscription through the Kindle store…although I was happy when they let me just drop the paper version, and get it only for my Fire.

Some of the things I suggest here might also have technical barriers. I get that, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ However, if they could be done (in an economically feasible way for Amazon and the publishers), well, I’d be much happier.

1. Store my back issues for me (see updates in this entry)

I know this one can be done…because my Zinio subscriptions do it! I don’t really buy books anywhere except the Kindle store, but I do prefer Zinio for magazines, and this is one of the biggest reasons.

The way it generally works at Amazon (although my Entertainment Weekly, which I get through an app from the Amazon Appstore, rather than through the Newsstand, keeps all the issues for me) is that you get the current issue and six back issues.

Let’s say you start a subscription with the January edition of a monthly. You are fine through July. You can redownload the issue, even download it to another (compatible) device on your account.

When August comes, though, you lose access to January.

That seems odd to me. After all, I pay every month…I don’t just pay one lump sum for access to a rolling seven issues. That would be different, and people would go for that as an option. Pay $50 once, and you have access to the current issue and six previous ones.

However, that’s not the way it works. If one issue is $3, and let’s say you don’t get a subscription discount, you pay that $3 a month. By the time July rolls around, you’ve paid $21. When August arrive, you’ve paid $24…but still only have access to seven issues. By December, you’ve paid $36. A year later, you’ve paid $72. You can still only access seven issues.

You keep paying more, but you don’t have more access.

Yes, you are getting a new magazine to read each month…but why then do they give you access to any back issues?

It’s just strange.

Eventually, you will have paid hundred of dollars…and you will have access to seven issues.

You could, I suppose, think about it like paying your cable bill. For me, though, I go back and look at back issues. I use them for research. I remember specific articles, and go back to them.

I have done just that with Zinio.

That’s my first (and biggest, I think) suggestion: store my back issues for me, just like you store e-books and apps.

I should point out that you can “keep” an issue, and then it isn’t part of your rolling seven. However, you store it locally on your device (and magazines take up a lot of memory, because of all the pictures)…and it only works on that one device. If your Kindle fails with magazines stored on it that you’ve kept, you just lose them.

Update: big thanks to my reader, Michael! Michael commented to tell me that there were more than seven issues in Michael’s archives. I’m quite sure that isn’t the way it used to be. However, I went to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

and checked one of the subscriptions we still have (National Geographic). The display was different…it used to be a simple dropdown, now it is a horizontal scroll. Lo and behold, there were more than seven issues available to me!

So, I guess that one is solved…four to go. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thanks, Michael!

Update: I’ve now had indications that this happened July 1st, so it’s recent (thanks to *~*Pineapple*~* for that info!) . ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve also been pointed to this (thanks again, *~*Pineapple*~*), which makes it official:

“Back issues of magazines and newspapers that you subscribe to are stored and available to download again from the Manage Your Kindle page (http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle). The 12 most recent issues of your magazine subscription and the 14 most recent issues of your newspaper subscription will also be available from theย Cloudย tab on your Kindle Fire.”
Manage Your Subscriptions Amazon help page

Note that the help page is for the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. The number of issues stored on the device seems to vary, but the back issues should be available regardless of which Kindle Fire you have. For magazines that work on the non-Fire Kindles, I would assume it is the same.

2. Let me buy individual back issues

Sometimes, I’ll see a magazine article cited, and want to read it. At this point, Amazon doesn’t give me a way to buy any individual issue except the current one. I would pay for it…and I’d love it if it went back decades. ๐Ÿ™‚

Zinio is going to start offering this idea to public libraries…letting them buy individual back issues, from what I’ve heard.

3. Text-to-speech for magazines

I understand that you need to have the words as text, not just as part of images…but some of my magazines allow me to switch to a text version. I would absolutely love being able to listen to a magazine in the car! Its’ not always about the pictures…although that brings to mind what people used to say about a certain magazine, that they only bought it for the articles. ๐Ÿ˜‰

4. Save my clipped articles as though they were e-book titles

One of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, suggested this for blog articles, and I think it makes a lot of sense. I would like to be able to “clip” an article, and just have that article stored separately. Ideally, I could put them in Collections, like we can do on some Kindle devices. In fact, it would be really cool if I could tag them, and then have them “stitched” into one title. I could choose to read all of my articles from different magazines about, oh, the Apple Agency Model case, and have it presented to me as one book.

5. Let me read magazines on all my devices

I get it…my Kindle Paperwhite can’t display the color pictures on my Fire. However, I’d be happy looking at them in black and white. I want to be able to read an article on my phone, if I want. The thing that would really enable this, of course, is text versions of the magazines…and currently, that appears to be done in a bit of a clunky fashion. Of course, I’d like this extended to blogs…I hear from people quite often who want to subscribe to this blog to read on a SmartPhone or a Kindle Fire. I wouldn’t think that would be that hard to do.

Well, there are five ideas from me. What do you think? Do you buy magazines from the Kindle store? If not, have you made a conscious decision not to do it…and what would change your mind? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this blog.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in theย I Love My Kindle blog.

12 Responses to “5 changes I’d like to see to Kindle magazine subscriptions”

  1. Common Sense Says:

    Keeping back issues is the biggest issue for me. In addition to your comments, if you cancel a subscription, you lose it all, you don’t get to keep the issues you’ve already paid for. If the publisher cancels the subscription, like Bon Appetit did, switching to an app, the issues remain.

    I’ve complained about this to Amazon time after time. I lost issues when I moved from the original Kindle Fire to an HD version. I was upset enough that I moved one of my subscriptions to Zinio, purchasing all the back issues. Amazon did reimburse me for some of the cost, but it was maybe 1/3 of what the back issues cost me.

    Even though my HD has far more space, it is running out quickly. To make more room, I tend to keep my Zinio issues in the “cloud” instead of on my Kindle.

    I tried to back up issues using Calibre, but it doesn’t work like it does for books so that’s not a solution either.

    To add to your comments about reading mags on phones, that’s something else you can do with Zinio.

    I’d also like to mention that for some reason, Amazon doesn’t have the Zinio app in the Appstore, even though it was approved years ago. You have to download the file on Zinio’s webpage through your Kindle.

    As a result, I no longer subscribe to new magazines through Amazon. Since I can do all this with Zinio, it’s clearly not a publisher issue, it’s an Amazon issue. VERY customer unfriendly.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Common!

      I can pretty much echo all of that. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for pointing out what happens when you cancel your subscription…that’s important for people to realize. The way Amazon does it now, you aren’t buying the issues, you are buying access to seven of them (unless you choose to save the issue, store it yourself, and have it tied to one device).

      I also keep my back issues on Zinio’s servers, but that parallels what I do with my Kindle e-books…I usually only have about ten of them on any given device at any time.

  2. rogerknights Says:

    Good ideas. (Amazon needs to get its earwax out, as I’ve said before.) These remind me of something I’ve suggested before, but that bears repetition:

    Amazon’s new “Send to Kindle” add-on, which can be invoked from a web browser’s print dialog box, and the existence of independent browser add-ons like SENDtoREADER, should cause Amazon to rethink its “clipping limit” policy for blog subscribers. (This limit is set by Amazon, NOT by blog-owners.)

    What we have now is an absurd world where the free-riders who read Kindle blogs on the web can “clip” all the articles they want (have them sent to their Kindles), but the paying Kindle-blog subscribers canโ€™t do so after they run into Amazon’s fixed clipping limit.

    As a result, I’ve recently cancelled my subs to six of the ten kindle blogs I used to subscribe to, as well as Amazon’s free Omnivoracious blog.

    I suggest that Amazon remove its fixed limit and replace it with a limit of one clipping per week, or six per month (or 30-day span), per blog. And/or charge subscribers $0.35 per clip beyond the limit.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!

      Good points. I suppose the key question is, “Why have the clipping limit at all?” I understand it to some extent on e-books, where the concern might be exporting the whole book into a DRM free, text-formatted file. I don’t think that the use of blogs really would run be similar to that fear…

  3. Michael Says:

    I’ve had several magazine subscriptions through Amazon and I haven’t seen the 7 issue limit that you mention. All of my subscriptions have more than 7 issues available in the cloud for download. I thought I read somewhere that after more than 7 issues on your device, Amazon will automatically delete the oldest from your device (not from the cloud). I haven’t confirmed this because I manually delete older issues from my device well before this auto-delete would potentially happen. Nevertheless, the older issues are still available, and I have gone back and retrieved them from the cloud on occassion.

    Some magazines I have with more than seven issues in the cloud right now are: National Geographic, Motor Trend, and Outside. Note that these are magazines that don’t require a separate app from the publisher. I also get Vanity Fair, SI, and EW through an app and those keep all my old issues too.

    I guess I’m just not clear about this issue…or maybe I’ve just been lucky.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Michael!

      Huh. I’m reasonably sure that’s the way it used to be (people have complained about it many times), but I just double-checked one…and the display is different and I am able to go back more than seven issues! I’m going to update the post to reflect that information, and credit you for the heads-up…thanks!

      One down…four to go. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Common Sense Says:

      I checked my account as well and it looks like all the back issues are there now. I’d like to know if this was an official policy change before I trust my subscriptions with Amazon again.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Common!

        I’ll try and dig a bit more into it.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Common, it’s official!

        Manage Your Subscriptions Amazon help page

        “Back issues of magazines and newspapers that you subscribe to are stored and available to download again from the Manage Your Kindle page (http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle). The 12 most recent issues of your magazine subscription and the 14 most recent issues of your newspaper subscription will also be available from the Cloud tab on your Kindle Fire.”

        I’ve updated the post with more of a comment.

      • Common Sense Says:

        It’s still the same problem, only with 12 issues instead of 7. I’ll stick with Zinio.

        Growing up, we always had old issues of magazines like Reader’s Digest and Popular Science laying around our cabin. I expect the same kind of thing from my digital issues. You never know when you’ll want to re-read something or look something up. And some issues never get old, like Bon Appetit or Outdoor Photography.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Common!

        Actually, it’s lifetime of the subscription back issues from Amazon now. The twelve issue thing is how many show on the Cloud tab on the device…but they are all available at

        http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

        similar to Zinio.

        We have 20 issues (back to 2011) of NatGeo available to us, for example.

        I’m with you…I have some magazines where my back issues (in paper) in my house are decades old.

      • Common Sense Says:

        Thanks for clarifying Bufo!

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