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. 😉
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
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. 🙂 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
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. 😉
Update: I’ve now had indications that this happened July 1st, so it’s recent (thanks to *~*Pineapple*~* for that info!) . 🙂
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 the Cloud 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. 🙂
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. 😉
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 the I Love My Kindle blog.