PC Magazine has succumbed to the death of print. The venerable magazine, which I relied upon for decades as the best source of information and tips on personal computing, will cease print publication in January 2009.
The magazine claims it will hang in there as an emailed publication, but I hate trying to read a magazine on a computer monitor. So I certainly won’t renew my subscription to the “Digital Edition” when it finally runs out. I don’t expect that version to survive for long anyway. Parent company Ziff Davis went bankrupt back in March and I expect it will pare back to just the free pcmag.com site.
This is hardly the first computer magazine I’ve subscribed to that has folded. The list includes PC Computing, The Color Computer Magazine, and Byte. At its peak in the 1980s and early 1990s PC Magazine was a 400-600 page tome that arrived in my mailbox every other week, chock full of wonderfully detailed and extensive reviews. Its superb columnists Jim Seymour, John C. Dvorak, and Bill Machrone were almost as entertaining as Byte’s own Jerry Pournelle. Seymour died years ago, but Machrone still does some freelancing and Dvorak’s columns graced PC Magazine until the end, with John also serving as a valued regular on Leo Laporte’s This Week in Tech podcast. Having recently beaten a brain tumor, good old Jerry Pournelle is still hanging in there with his online edition of Chaos Manor.
But the magazine format seems doomed, with websites and podcasts taking their place. For computers, superb online resources like cnet.com provide great reviews and add value with their entertaining and informative video clips and podcasts like Buzz Out Loud. Even the grand old weekly Time magazine of mainstream news, which I’ve taken for twenty years, is now incredibly slim and only occasionally rises to the occasion with a good piece of reporting featuring an in-depth investigation or analysis. I doubt I’ll renew it.
Instead I’ll use my Kindle, iPhone, and netbook to access web-based information on the go, looking forward to a convergence device that is the size of the Kindle but has a full-color high-resolution electronic ink touchscreen display and WiFi/3G/EVDO networking. The death of print won’t mean the death of text.